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February 1988 (Phaigna 1909) 


Price Rs. 20.00 


Sales Emporia # Publications Division 

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Printed at Indraprastha Press (C.B.T.), Nehru House, New Delhi-110002. 

About the Series 

The object of this series is to record, for the present and future 
generations, the story of the struggles and achievements of the 
eminent sons and daughters of India who have been mainly 
instrumental in our national renaissance and the attainment of 
independence. Except in a few cases, such authoritative bio¬ 
graphies have not been available. 

The biographies are planned as handy volumes written by 
knowledgeable people and giving a brief account, in simple words, 
of the life and activities of the eminent leaders and of their times. 
They are not intended either to be comprehensive studies or to 
replace the more elaborate biographies. 

The work of writing these lives has been entrusted to dilferent 
people. It has, therefore, not been possible to publish the bio¬ 
graphies in a chronological order. It is hoped, however, that 
within a short period all eminent national personalities will figure 
in this series. 

Shri R.R. Diwakar is the General Editor of the series. 

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During our struggle for Independence, Mahatma Gandhi used 
to say: “I can keep India intact and its freedom intact only if I 
have goodwill towards the whole of the human family, and not 
merely for the human family which inhabits this little spot of 
earth called India.” The oneness of India was emphasised by 
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the Unity of India, and most of his 
other works. And as a true follower of Gandhi and Nehru, 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi through his writings laid the greatest 
emphasis on the oneness of humanity and he even saw God in the 
midst of the teeming millions, the poor and downtrodden. 

The national integration and communal harmony was vital to 
the existence of our nation and the same could only be accom¬ 
plished through contributions of individuals, groups and insti¬ 
tutions, was emphasised by Sri Vidyarthi throughout his life. As 
an individual, he became the very embodiment of national unity, 
national integration and communal amity; and staked his very 
life for that. In order to ingratiate himself in a group of selfless 
volunteers, he formed the Sewa Dal and founded the Sewa 
Ashram at Narwal (Kanpur). To further universal brother¬ 
hood he got established the Hindustani Biradari, which exists 
even today under the stewardship of Sri Paripurnanand of 

As for institutional contribution, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
began as a Home Rule Leaguer, and outshone other contemporary 
leaders as a Swarajist and Congressman. He made his name as a 
satyagrahi and followed dictates of Mahatma Gandhi to the letter. 
The success of the Kanpur Session of the Indian National 
Congress projected him as a national leader. Even as a Congressite 
he continued his contribution to the Indian Trade Union move¬ 
ment and his championship of the kisans in Rae Bareli and 
Champaran. Through the columns of the Pratap he exposed the 
miserable plight of not only the kisans in India, but also of the 


coolies under the Indentured Labour system, which had made 
them the helots of the British Empire. 

During 1926-29 Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi made his mark as 
a Legislator in the U.P. Council. Although he was basically 
opposed to Council Entry programme of the Swarajists, but once 
chosen to stand as a candidate, he showed that he enjoyed the 
confidence of the masses in Kanpur. His speeches in the Council, 
all in Hindi, hitherto unpublished, show his remarkable grasp of 
the problems facing the province. 

However, when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had proclaimed the 
ideal of piirnaswarajya at the Lahore Session of theindian National 
Congress in December 1929, and thereafter launched the Civil 
Disobedience Movement, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarathi plunged 
headlong into that. As Pandit Nehru had become President of the 
All India Congress, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was selected to 
succeed Panditji as President of the U.P. Provincial Congress 
Committee. And during his presidentship followed the great Civil 
Resistance campaign in the most disciplined manner. How 
meticulously that was planned is evident from the original minutes 
of the U.P.C.C. over which he presided. Being at the helm he was 
nominated as the Director of the U.P. Satyagraha movement and 
was jailed. Released on 10 March 1931, he was caught in the 
whirlwind of communal riots at Kanpur, as a sequel to the hartal 
due to the execution of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdeo and Rajguru. 

It was an irony of fate that the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh 
was followed by that of Sri Vidyarthi. Few people knew that 
Bhagat Singh received his precepts from Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi. The contacts between the two remained till the end, 
when Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi visited him in Lahore jail to 
dissuade him from fasting unto death. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, 
although himself a votary of non-violence, was the preceptor, 
guide and philosopher for the revolutionaries. His efforts to help 
the accused in the Mainpuri Conspiracy Case and Kakori Case 
were praiseworthy. 


No wonder the Pratap office became a rendezvous for young 
revolutionaries, it became a training ground not only for them but 
also intellectuals. A host of editors, writers and poets owed their 
works to the inspiration given by Sri Vidyartlii. He also became a 
publisher for revolutionary literature and fearlessly published their 
correspondence. His connections with arch revolutionary Raja 
Mahendra Pratap are little known. The great editor was himself a 
voracious reader and a writer of repute. He had a fire and zeal 
in him that made him one of the most popular and respected 
leaders of his times. Pandit Nehru at one time acclaimed him as a 
gem of Kanpur. 

So when the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting 
expressed a desire to have his biography written in the Builders of 
Modern India series, I readily offered to do so. In the course of 
my writing out the present biography, I was fortunate in having 
secured the guidance of Sri Paripurnanand who made available to 
me the relevant material about the Hindustani Biradari when I 
wrote to him or met him personally. The work was facilitated by 
the availability of original files of the Pratap and the Prabha. 

Besides the above, my meeting with Srimati Bimla Vidyarthi, 
daughter of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi at Kanpur, her personal 
reminiscences about family life, relations and the last stages of the 
Pratap were very helpful in understanding the man. 

I am indebted to one and all for the help rendered and the 
facilities provided to me. 

M.L. Bhargava 


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I ; Early Life .. .. .. 1 

II : Editor .. .. .. 15 

III : Defiant Journalism .. .. 32 

IV : In THE Political Arena .. .. 51 

V : Social Worker .. .. .. 75 

VI : Legislator .. .. .. 84 

VII : In the Service of Literature .. .. 103 

VIII: Multifaced Activities .. .. 115 

IX : Freedom Fighter .. .. .. 128 

X : Tragic End .. .. .. 138 

XI : Martyr for Communal Amity .. .. 150 

Appendix ‘A’ .. .. .. 159 

Appendix ‘B’ .. .. .. 160 

Bibliography .. .. .. 161 




• i 



A. > 



Early Life 

MARTYRS ARE born and not made. This was as much true 
of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi as of others. Born in an India, 
ridden with poverty and degradation of foreign rule, he was deter¬ 
mined to lead a life of sacrifice. In the words of Gopal Krishna 
Gokhale, India of eighteen nineties was inhabited by people 
who were, as the Corn Law poet had depicted: 

“Landless, joyless, helpless, hopeless. 

Gasping still for bread and breath. 

To their graves by trouble hunted, 

India’s helots toil till death.” 

According to another writer the poor of the country could say: 
“Nay, take my life and all 

You take my life when you thus take the means whereby 
I live.” 

From 1872 to 1902, as many as three famines ravaged the country. 

It was in such an India that, on 26 October 1890, Ganesh was 
born in a family living in Attarsuiya mohalla of Allahabad city. 
Although the family could not be called affluent, yet considering 
the general economic depression in the country, it had a good 
heritage and was reasonably well off. When Ganesh was born, 
his mother Gomti Devi was living with her mother. 

At the time of his birth, his father Babu Jai Narain was 
employed as assistant teacher in Hindi in the Anglo-Vernacular 
School of the erstwhile Gwalior State. 




Babu Jai Narain belonged to Hathgaon (Harshagaon) in the 
district of Fatehpur. His father Babu Bansgopal was employed 
in the Excise Department, and grandfather Babu Devi Prasad 
was a premier rais of his time. He had settled in Fatehpur after 
the 1,857 War of Independence. He belonged to a prominent 
Kayastha family, cultured and well educated. He had one younger 
brother, known as Munshi Ram Narayan. He had two sons, and 
a daughter. The elder son came to be known as Shivavrat Narain 
(Shiv) and the second son was Ganesh Shankar (Ganesh). The 
daughter was named as Bimla Devi, subsequently married to 
Madan Gopal. 

Babu Jai Narain had his early education in Persian. When 
he was only fourteen years old, his father died. So, he had to 
struggle hard from the very beginning. In 1883, at the age of 
seventeen, he passed the English Middle Examination of U.P. 
In 1890, he was called to Gwalior by his cousin, Babu Baij 
Nath. There he learnt English by his own efforts and secured a 
job in the Anglo-Vernacular School at Mungaoli in the then 
Gwalior State. 

During the period of his service under the Gwalior State, 
Babu Jai Narain was posted at Bhilsa and Mungaoli. As his 
job was transferable, he normally kept his family at Allahabad 
and later on at Kanpur. Fie remained in service for about thirty 
years and on retirement in 1921, he came to Kanpur and stayed 
there till his death in 1928. During the last few years of his life, 
he became indifferent to everything around him. However, during 
this period, when he met Swami Mangalanand of Puri, he was 
advised to devote his time to the study of the Upanishads. This 
preoccupation was expected to keep him away from heart ail¬ 
ments. Accepting Swami’s advice, Jai Narain started rendering 
into Hindi the ten Upanishads with the help of an Urdu trans¬ 
lation Alakh Prakash written by Alakhdhari Kanaihyalal and 
Vedanuvachan by Nagina Singh. With the help of Swamiji he 



completed the translation work by 1927. But after four months 
of its publication, he breathed his last at the age of 62. 

The book entitled Upanishad Sudha, containing 400 pages, was 
published by the Pratap press on 9 December 1928. The trans¬ 
lation had been done in simple and lucid language. In the words 
of Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, in this work, the author 
had explained the substance of Brahmavidya. The author was 
well-versed in Persian language, as well as Hindi and could also 
compose verses. Ganesh Shankar lost no time and saw the book 
in print at the earliest. 

Babu Jai Narain was married to Gomti Devi, who was born 
in 1866. She belonged to a respectable Kayastha family of Attar- 
suiya, Allahabad, and was a woman of sterling character. The 
fearlessness inherent in Ganesh was the gift from the mother. 
She was religious minded and god-fearing. She was adept in 
cooking and household work. She soon became a fond mother; 
and kept the family in cheerful mood, despite adverse pecuniary 
circumstances. Although not educated, she was highly learned 
and cultured. She was very fond of relating to children stories 
with a moral. 

She had a remarkable grit and determination, and even after 
martyrdom of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, she could console the 
mother of Hari Shankar and other children. But, according to 
Shivavrat Narain, on the birthday of Ganesh, subsequent to his 
martyrdom, she broke down and bitterly cried for four hours. 
All efforts to console her failed, with the result that her heart 
was affected adversely. After a fortnight, she departed from this 
world at the age of 65. 


Ganesh and his mother could stay at Mungaoli only for a 
short period. In October 1892, they went to Saharanpur, where 
Ganesh’s grandfather, on mother’s side, Suraj Prasad, was posted 
as assistant jailor in the District Jail. At that time, bread was 



manufactured in the jail and Ganesh’s grandfather gave him a 
bread daily, after purchasing it. The child incidentally became 
very fond of the jail bread, little knowing that one day, he would 
have to subsist on that very bread in jails. 

In 1894, Ganesh rejoined his father at Mungaoli, where he 
was taught Urdu. In 1901, when his father was transferred to 
Bhilsa, he got an opportunity to study Bangbasi and Bharat Mitra, 
Hindi newspapers of Calcutta. By 1905, Ganesh had passed 
English Middle Examination with Hindi as the second language. 
His father sent him to Kanpur so that there he might get some job 
with the help of his elder brother Shivavrat Narain. But consider¬ 
ing the learning habits of the boy, his uncle purchased for him 
books prescribed for the Entrance Examination of the University 
of Allahabad, so that he could study and appear in the exami¬ 
nation as a private candidate. As his father had been re-trans¬ 
ferred to Mungaoli, Ganesh again went there to continue his 
studies. His father arranged for his coaching in English and 
Mathematics and he passed the examination in 1907 in Ilnd 

After having passed the entrance examination, Ganesh 
Shankar was admitted to the eleventh class in the Kayastha 
Pathshala College, Allahabad. Having been established in 1873 
by Munshi Kashiprasad Kulbhaskar for the benefit of the poor 
and needy Kayastha students, by 1907 it had developed into 
a nationalist institution. 

Indoctrination at Allahabad 

In 1906-7, the city of Allahabad was in ferment. Political 
leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Gopal 
Krishna Gokhale visited the place for mustering support for the 
nationalist party or the Indian National Congress. The year 
1907 was also the fiftieth year of the 1857 War of Independence. 
So, the European population was in the grip of panic. Pandit 
Motilal Nehru was alarmed at student unrest in Allahabad and 



wrote about that to his son, Jawaharla! Nehru who was studying 
abroad on 24 January 1907. 

Allahabad in 1907 was humming with both literary and politi¬ 
cal activities. It had periodicals like Hindi Pradeep^ Swarajya, 
Kctrmayogi and Abhyudaya. These were carrying articles on 
freedom of press, slavery, revolutionary upsurge and even cult of 
bomb, and the students of even Muir Central College, residing 
in the Hindu Boarding house assumed an attitude of open defiance 
to the moderate leaders of U.P. Even Sunderlal and M.M. 
Malaviya were openly abused. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi as a student became more attrac¬ 
ted towards political journalism and started working in the 
Swarajya office. But the Urdu weekly was warned in 1908; its 
editor Shanti Narain Bhatnagar was convicted in July and sen¬ 
tenced to three and a half years imprisonment. Although four 
editors, Hotilal Verma, Ram Hari, Nand Gopal and Laddh 
Ram were sentenced each to 10 years transportation for preach¬ 
ing sedition and were packed off to Andaman and Nicobar 
Islands, yet Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi escaped their fate due to 
ill-health and returned to Kanpur in February 1908. Excessive 
reading and writing affected his eyes adversely and he was advised 
to discontinue his studies only after eight months or so. During 
his stay at Allahabad, he could not complete his education, but 
became fully indoctrinated with political idealism. 

Contacts with Sunderlal 

Ganesh Shankar’s indoctrination at Allahabad enabled him to 
come into contact with leading literary figures of his time. At 
Kanpur, according to Laxmidhar Bajpai, in 1909 he attracted 
attention at the Patkapur public meeting. At that time, his face 
was beaming with a new ray of hope and he was full of enthu¬ 
siasm. Recalling his first meeting with Ganesh Shankar at 
Allahabad, Sunderlal recorded that it was in 1909 that he came 
into contact with him. The former looked simple and unconten- 



tious, but full of vigour and enthusiasm. He appeared to him 
to be sincere and a young man of determination. 

After their first meeting, Ganesh Shankar started writing for 
the Karmayogi a fortnightly review in Hindi, edited by Sunderlal. 
It reproduced translations of important extracts from Aurobindo 
Ghose’s Karamyogni and Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s Kesari. It 
published independent articles on principles of nationalism, 
swadeshi and boycott movements, national education and 
Swaraj. At Allahabad, Ganesh Shankar had to live with some of 
his relatives. When he went to Kanpur, he stayed with his elder 
brother. At Kanpur, Sunderlal met him at Kashinath’s residence; 
which was shared by his elder brother, Devi Prasad Khatri. His 
was the place which in those days was frequented by revolutiona¬ 
ries. Ganesh Shankar became quite intimate with them. 

However, at Allahabad, the Karmayogi invited the wrath of 
the local authorities under the Press Acts. As Sunderlal expressed 
his inability to deposit a security of Rs. 9,000/-, both his papers, 
Hindi Pradeep and Karmayogi ceased publication by 1910. The 
Swarajya too, due to incessant prosecution of its eight editors, 
stopped its publication by that date. So Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi’s early places of apprenticeship in journalism and earn¬ 
ing petty sums disappeared sooner than expected. 

Interlude of Service 

On return from Allahabad, Ganesh Shankar joined the local 
Currency OJffice, Kanpur on a paltry sum of rupees thirty per 
month with effect from 6 February 1908. He was no doubt sincere 
and efficient in work, but was given to incessant reading. One 
day, while he was supervising the burning of the wornout notes, 
he started reading a book. At that time, his officer, an English¬ 
man and Superintendent of the Currency Office, Kanpur, came 
on the spot and objected to his reading the book. Arguments 
ensued, and due to the officer’s remarks, Ganesh Shankar 



decided to resign his post with eifect from 26 November 1908, 
i.e., after only 10 months and 20 days service. 

From 1 December 1909, Ganesh Shankar accepted the job 
of a teacher in Pandit Prithvinath High School, Kanpur, on a 
salary of rupees twenty per month only. He worked in the school 
till 5 December 1910 and was forced to resign the post. The 
reason again was his habit of reading. This time he was reading 
copies of Karmayogi (Allahabad) which was regarded as a sedi¬ 
tious paper, and the headmaster Sajivan Lai objected to it. 
According to Narain Prasad Arora, who was also his colleague, 
Sajivan Lai had become annoyed at their propagation of the paper 
of Aurobindo Ghose and so he got rid of both. 

During his stay at Kanpur, in 1909 and 1910, he had become 
member of the ‘Hindu Friends Association’ and had come into 
contact with the elite of the town. Kashinath introduced him to 
Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi who soon took fancy to him 
and became his Guru in journalism. 

When employed as teacher in P.P.N. School, Kanpur, Ganesh 
Shankar used to coach the son of a sub-inspector of police. The 
boy was never attentive. Ganesh Shankar told his father that 
there was no use taking money from him as the boy could not 
benefit from his tuition. The sub-inspector was very much 
impressed by his high ideals and wanted that his son should sit 
at the feet of such a teacher. But Ganesh Shankar refused to 
oblige him and thus lost the means of livelihood also. According 
to Narain Prasad Arora, Ganesh Shankar also served as private 
secretary to Seth Ram Gopal for some time. 

Subsequently Ganesh Shankar was reported to have worked 
with Hindustan Insurance Company also at Kanpur. But what¬ 
ever money he received, he spent on the purchase of books on 
Homoeopathy and Electro-therapy, and boxes of medicine. He 
began distributing medicines to members of his family and also 
to his neighbours. He experimented that smaller doses of lower 
p o tency were much more useful. 




Although Ganesh Shankar was struggling for settled career 
and was without adequate means of livelihood, his marriage was 
fixed with Prakash Devi, the grand-daughter of Munshi 
Visheveshwar Dayal of Harvanshpur, Tehsil Soraon, Allahabad. 
She was at that time only 16 years of age and Ganesh Shankar 
was 19 years old. As the father-in-law was of traditional views, 
so he wanted music and dance parties to accompany the marriage 
party. Ganesh Shankar vehemently protested against such things 
but despite his protests arrangements were made for music and 
dance at the bride’s place. But as luck would have it, it rained so 
heavily on the day that by the time the marriage party reached the 
bride’s place, the time for music and dance was over. So the 
opportunity of any irritant to the bridegroom did not arise, and 
an embarrassing situation was thus averted. 

This matrimonial alliance between the two was cordial and 
happy. But the nature of the newly wed was poles apart. Ganesh 
Shankar was firm and resolute in his resolve come what may, 
but Prakash Devi was polite and gentle to the extreme. However, 
both were one in facing the ups and downs of life and remained 
undaunted in spite of sacrifices. While Ganesh Shankar remained 
engrossed in the editorial and press work, she managed the house¬ 
hold and looked after the family. Even when Ganesh Shankar 
entered politics and courted arrest, she rose to the occasion and 
became a tower of strength to him. 

In 1922, when he was pestered with requests to agree to apolo¬ 
gise and express regrets by not jumping over security deposit, 
he decided to surrender and court imprisonment. He frankly 
expressed his sentiments to his wife who elegantly replied: “I 
congratulate you on your decision, while performing your duty, 
even if you die, I shall prefer that.” According to Devvrat Shastri, 
he in a letter, commended her spirit. She was right in what she 
had written. Death was preferable to both, in preference to an 
apology or surrender. He assured her in that letter that he won’t 



do anything, which might lower their prestige. The courage, that 
she had shown, gave him strength to fulfil his duty. He was 
happy to undergo imprisonment and steer clear through the 
accompanying ordeals. The sentiments expressed in his letter of 
1922 were amply proved by the entries in his jail diary from 31 
January 1922 to 17 May 1922, now published. Equally remarka¬ 
ble are his articles entitled Jail Jiwan Ki Jhalak in twelve 
serials, published in the Pratap. They speak of the sterling 
character of both. 

Lure of Journalism 

Contact with Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, editor of 
the monthly magazine Saraswati, yielded quick dividends for 
Ganesh Shankar. He was in need of an assistant, so he agreed to 
employ Ganesh Shankar as assistant editor on rupees twenty-five 
per mensem, with effect from 2 November 1911. He soon 
became enamoured of his young and enthusiastic editor. 
Subsequently Dwivedi himself paid the following tribute to his 
early apprenticeship in these words, “So long as Ganesh remained 
with me, he did his job with determination and hard labour. 
Daily he used to come to Juhi on foot and return. His politeness, 
gentlemanliness, habit to work hard and craze for acquisition 
of knowledge endeared him to me. He used to respect me as his 
Guru, on the other hand I regarded him as my teacher in many 
respects. Slowly he became a member of my family and there was 
hardly any occasion to differ and quarrel on any topic. Ganesh 
used to help me also in personal domestic matters. He picked up 
writing habit in Hindi. I wanted him to learn Sanskrit also, but 
he was inclined towards politics more than literary pursuits. 
Therefore, I did not pressurize him. He was a voracious reader. 
Even while walking towards Juhi, he used to scan the newspaper 
or some book. 

“When through Saraswati Ganesh had become well known, 
the Abhyudaya authorities dragged him for their paper. After 
having finalised the deal Ganesh informed me. I was bound to 



allow him, so I allowed him to go. But I also administered a mild 
rebuke to him. How is it that you have struck the deal without 
consulting me? If you had told me all things, I would not have 
checked you from going. What right had I to stop you ? I was 
your well-wisher. Ganesh was very much influenced by my 
rebuke and was repentant for his mistake.” 

In spite of having parted like that, Dwivedi and Ganesh 
Shankar remained very close to each other. As Saraswati magazine 
was a literary one and Ganesh Shankar was inclined towards 
political journals, he joined Ahhyudaya at Allahabad on 29 
December 1912. He continued there till 23 September 1913. 
He got a stipend of rupees forty per mensem only. The Abhyudaya 
was running at a loss and with the joining of Ganesh Shankar, 
number of its Subscribers increased considerably and its income 
also went up. He used to write articles and even editorials for the 
paper. The attitude of the paper had consistently been “one of 
carping criticism of Government measures and the British 
generally”. The paper was edited by Krishna Kant Malaviya, 
nephew of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. The publisher 
and printer was Badri Prashad Pande. Ever since 1907 when it 
was started, it had shown itself as a keen critic of the British 
Government’s measures. Between 1907 and 1915, the Abhyudaya 
Press had been printing three newspapers and magazines, the 
Ahhyudaya, the Maryada in Hindi and the Crucible in English. 

Although Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi got a paltry remunera¬ 
tion of rupees forty per month only in the Abhyudaya, yet his 
stay at Allahabad enabled him to come into contact with the 
elite of the town. He also satisfied the urge for advanced studies. 
He scanned the works of George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, 
Shelley, Stuart Mill, Tolstoy, Spencer, Rousseau, Mopassaun, 
Ruskin, Carlyle, Thoreo, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Browning, 
Anatole France, H.G. Wells, etc. He took fascination to Victor 
Hugo and later on translated his masterpiece Les Miserables, 
under the title Ahuti. In 1921, he also translated his work entitled 
Ninetythree and an article entitled Glimpses of Political 



Revolution, He had also written on Joan of Arc, Maxim Gorky 
and Peter Kropotkin the great Anarchist. 

Besides reading the literary works of the world’s men of 
letters, he also read the political writings of the great political 
leaders of India, e.g. Dada Bhai Naoroji, Ferozeshah Mehta, 
Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma 
Gandhi and Rabindra Nath Tagore. By this time, he had not 
only become a Hindi writer of repute, but also had delved into 
the works of Surdas, Tulsidas, Kabirdas, Bhartendu Babu 
Harishchandra and Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi. The great 
epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, fascinated him. He 
thus became an ardent student and earned the appellation of 
‘VIDYARTHF. Thereafter he always wrote his name as Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi, a life-long student. According to him every 
man in his life is just a ‘Vidyarthi’—an accomplisher. 

While working with the Abhyudaya, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was worried about its bad finances. At one time he 
became anxious even to purchase and own it. He requested Shiv 
Narain Misra to arrange for the finances. But somehow, the 
idea to own a paper at Allahabad was given up. Although the 
deal could not be struck and Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was 
compelled by his illness to leave Allahabad and return to Kanpur, 
yet it showed which way the wind was blowing. The idea of run¬ 
ning and owning a paper by himself had germinated in Ganesh 
Shankar Vidhyarthi at Allahabad. It was to see its fruition at 

Earlier Writings 

The Saraswati, edited by Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi 
was of multifarious interests and was widely read as a literary 
magazine. Being impressed with the disaster of the sinking of the 
Titanic, luxury ship in 1912, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi wrote 
his very first article. It was liked by Dwivedi and published in the 
Saraswati, Besides this on the occasion of the Delhi Durbar, the 



style of salutation by the Indian princes was a subject of comment 
in the Indian newspapers. And when Maharaja Sayaji Rao 
Gaikwad of Baroda declined to salute in that manner and retired 
to his seat, the Anglo-Indian papers commented adversely on 
the episode. But young Ganesh Shankar wrote an article in 
defence of Baroda prince and sent it to Hitvarta which was edited 
by Baburao Vishnu Paradkar. After making some changes, he 
published the article in Hitvarta and the same was read with 
interest. Its publication gave encouragement to the promising 

While working as assistant editor with the Saraswati, Ganesh 
Shankar translated a good many English stories into Hindi, 
entitled Shekhchilli Ki Kahaniyan. It was his first book in Hindi. 

Thus working under the able guidance of Acharya Mahavir 
Prasad Dwivedi, Ganesh Shankar developed his creative faculty 
of writing in Hindi. He developed his own literary style also. 
Appreciation was quick to come and his writings in the Abhyudaya 
attracted attention and also boosted the sales of the paper. This 
was no small achievement in those times of Hindi journalism. 
In all probability it was this initial success that emboldened 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi to start a paper of his own in 1913 
at Kanpur. 

Years of Distress 

From 1907 to 1913, Ganesh Shankar’s life was uncertain, 
full of pecuniary difficulties and physical ailments. His studies 
abruptly ended, never to be resumed. Unemployment staredathim 
at every step. But he was not scared. He remained undaunted. 
He was fired with the ardent desire to do something for the 
country, the poor and the downtrodden. His ardent patriotism 
and contacts with men like Shanti Narain Bhatnagar of the 
Swarajya and Sunderlal of the Karmayogi landed him into the 
vortex of revolutionaries. He was heedless about emoluments. 



Although he was married, he was unruffled by family responsibi¬ 
lities. For him service to the nation and country was uppermost. 

As Ganesh Shankar was devoted to voracious reading, he 
imbibed the cultural and political atmosphere of the times. He 
became fond of history. While studying for matriculation, the 
text-book— Book of Golden Deeds —written by Miss Charlotte 
M. Young, impressed him so much that he started writing a book 
entitled. Our Renunciation for the Benefit of Others. In this he 
completed stories of Indian heroes who had made sacrifices for 
others and become great. 

Soaring Idealism 

The preface written to the above-mentioned book, un¬ 
published, throws floodlight on the soaring idealism of young 
Ganesh Shankar. Although he was only nineteen years of age in 
1909, he wrote: 

“Service of the motherland is the prime duty of every man. 
Propagation of history is the greatest weapon for uplift of the 
country. It is my fervent duty that I must dedicate my life to the 
service of the motherland according to my faith and belief.” 

In the text of the book, he has written, “It was only after 
listening to the old fables of the great Hindu chieftains that 
Maharana Pratap (of Udaipur) became the worshipper of the 
goddess of Liberty. The stories of the Mahahharata and the 
Ramayana transformed the dependent son of a dependent father 
into Chattrapati of Maharashtra. Why go far? In our country, 
more particularly in the rainy season, the village folk recite Alha, 
and it is a sight to see their enthusiasm at the time of recital, the 
mode of their delivery, the exuberance of bravery from the move¬ 
ments of their limbs, etc. In short, history has the strength to 
awaken the slumbering, make them wide awake to stand up on 
their own legs and make blood run into the veins of the 
persons standing. To put life into the dead and to make the dry 



blossom forth into lush green, can only be achieved either by 
nectar (if there is anything like nectar) or by history. Refusal to 
accept the bliss of history is sheer obstinacy.” 

Such were the sentiments of the young writer. No wonder, 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi became so enamoured of the high 
ideal of Maharana Pratap that he was determined to start the 
paper after his name i.e. PRATAP. The years of endeavour, 
distress and pecuniary difficulties ultimately ushered him into a 
life of sacrifice and dedicated service. 



DESPITE PECUNIARY difficulties and uncertainties of Hindi 
journalism, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi went ahead to found a 
weekly at Kanpur on 9 November 1913. He was encouraged in 
this venture by Shiv Narain Misra, Narain Prasad Arora, 
Kashinath and others. At that time he had neither the nesessary 
finances nor was the political atmosphere conducive to such an 
enterprise. But Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, with his high sense of 
idealism, dedication and spirit of sacrifice, started the Pratap 
in 1913 in Philkhana, Kanpur. 

In the beginning, the Pratap had no press of its own and its 
first sixteen issues were printed at the Coronation Press, Kanpur. 
Seth Kamlapati Singhania and Seth Ram Gopal helped the paper • 
with finances. A dilapidated house on a monthly rent of rupees 
four only was available for it to start with. 

Inaugural Issue 

The Hindi weekly that made its appearance on 9 November, 
showed the high ideals with which it was lanuched. The inaugural 
issue carried an article entitled Karmaveer Maharana Pratap, 
which was written by an Indian youth who was none else than 
the young editor himself. At the age of only twenty-two, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi wrote: “Sacrifice—only sacrifice—that was 
what the freedom of Chittor wanted.” There was thunder, lightn¬ 
ing, clouds and darkness all around, and in order to safeguard 
the honour of Queen Padmini and the pride of Chittor bloodshed 
ensued. When the earth was satiated with the blood of heroes, 
the goddess of liberty of Chittor felt satisfied. The literary 



fervour, with which he wrote the article, was bound to inspire 
any of the readers and no doubt the issue can be read again and 
again even today. 

After recounting the past glory of Chittor, the writer eulo¬ 
gised the greatness of Maharana Pratap, and acclaimed that the 
very name was the Glory of India, the pride of the nation; 
symbol of firmness and politeness; its fame and historical role. 
He vouchsafed that, so long this ideal was kept in view, his name 
would be remembered. 

Before launching the venture, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
sought the blessings of Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, who 
gave him the motto for his weekly. The couplet read: 

“Whosoever is not proud of his own self-respect or that of 
his motherland— 

Is not a Man, rather is worse than an animal 
and is no more than a dead mass.” 

The very first numbers of the Pratap earned praise from daily 
Bharat Mitra and Kanpur Gazette. The latter applauded the high 
ideals of the Pratap and its laudable ambition to perpetuate the 
glory of its namesake, Maharana Pratap. 

First Tirade 

The plight of the Indentured Labour—the coolie emigrants— 
was the burning question of the day. The Pratap took up cudgels 
on their behalf. The young editor took a fancy to Gopal Krishna 
Gokhale’s advocacy of the rights of Indians in South Africa. 
It also wrote an article on Karmveer Gandhi in the very second 
issue. It appealed to the kind-hearted Governor-General, Lord 
Hardinge, to take up the cause of Indian emigrants and not to 
show any weakness. In order to further boost the cause of the 
Indian emigrants, the Pratap started collecting funds for their 
amelioration. The citizens of Kanpur were admonished for not 
liberally donating to Pratap Karam Veer Fund meant for the 



Indians overseas. The editor in two of his forceful editorials in 
November 1913 highlighted the plight of the oppressed Indians 
in South Africa. 

The labourers’ strike and their hardships also attracted the 
attention of the young and enthusiastic editor; determined to be 
fearless and outspoken. The living conditions of the mill- 
workers in the fast developing industrial town of Kanpur could 
not escape his attention. With the advocacy of the cause of the 
poor and the exploited, the newly established Hindi weekly 
became extremely popular. 

Special Number 

Within a year of its emergence, the Pratap brought out its 
special number in September 1914. It was entitled Rashtriya 
Ank with Bharatmata in the garb of Chandi, flanked by two lions 
as its special feature and photograph of Mahatma Gandhi as a 
satyagrahi on it. It was priced at four annas and had 60 pages. 
Amongst its contributors were Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, Maithi- 
li Saran Gupta, Munshi Prem Chand, Vidyavati Seth B.A., Syed 
Haider Hussain, Badrinath Bhatt B.A., Srimati Balaji, Satya- 
narayana Kaviratna and Janardhan Bhatt B.A. Naturally such 
a number enabled the Pratap to establish its reputation in Hindi 
journalism. By November 1914, the editor had made his debut 
as self-appointed champion of the mill-workers, the coolie-emi¬ 
grants and the exploited kisans of Champaran. 

The Pratap, dated 22 November 1914, published a letter 
regarding “Champaran Men Andher”. It condemned outright, 
the practice of Teen Kathia in indigo plantation farms, called 
upon the people to oppose such a tyranny and bemoaned the 
inactivity and imbecility of the Government of Bihar. It openly 
exhorted individuals and institutions to oppose the repression 
of workers in indigo plantations by Europeans. It opposed the 
unwarraned demand of Salami, at the rate of Rs. 18/- per bigha. 
It also published an article condemning the begar. It carried an 



appeal by a sufferer, announcing that the author was about to 
write, a book on the atrocities of the indigo planters of 
Champaran. This was too much for the then government. The 
Government by a notification declared it as forfeited. Undaunted, 
the Pratap continued its tirade against the indigo planters. 

Defiance of Press Laws 

The year 1913, when the Pratap was founded at Kanpur in 
November, was the worst in the history of the Press in U.P. 
Due to the publication of the sensational and inflammatory 
pamphlet entitled “Cawnpur Ki Khuni Dastan” by Tauhid 
Press, Meerut, the Government took action against it and the 
Comrade. After the outbreak of the World War I, the Defence 
of India Act was passed on 18 March 1915 and the Government 
found it convenient to restrain freedom of the Press. Military 
Censorship was also imposed. Consequently in U.P. from 1914 
to 1918, the newspapers came under active surveillance. The 
Press Act of 1910 was already in force. The authorities demanded 
security from a number of presses and forfeited secuiities of a 
large number of newspapers on one pretext or the other. 
The Independent (Allahabad), dated 5 April 1919, published a 
list of such presses which showed the actual working of the Press 
Act of 1910 , as per reply given by U.P. Government to a ques¬ 
tion put by C.Y. Chintamani, the renowned editor of the Leader 

Having worked with the Swarajya, the Karmayogi and the 
Abhyudaya (Allahabad), Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was well 
aware of the tentacles of the Press Act. But his debut as a youth¬ 
ful and dynamic editor between 1913 and 1914 showed that he 
was heedless of the consequences of the action which could be 
taken against the Pratap by the authorities. So he fearlessly con¬ 
tinued his advocacy of the peasants working in Champaran 
indigo plantations, the coolie emigiants in over-seas colonies 
and the mill-workers at Kanpur. He knew that the Sword of 
Damocles hung over his head. 



On 24 April at 2.00 a.m. the Deputy Inspector-Geneial of 
Police raided the houses of the editor, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, and the keeper of the Pratap press, Shiv Narain 
Misra. After searching questions, their articles and papers were 
ransacked. Nothing incriminating was found although the police 
examined the letters, accounts and even the lists of subscribers. 

According to an eye-witness account of the incident, there 
were at that time only two chairs in the press office; one was 
occupied by the D.I.G. and the other by the City Kotwal. Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi took exception to it and asked the Kotwal, 
Baqar Ali, to vacate the chair, as he was on duty. As soon as the 
chair was vacant, he occupied it and thereafter protested to the 
D.I.G. against his breaking open the almirahs. The D.I.G. Police 
retorted that the editor might send the bills for payment. Although 
the young editor showed unusual bravery and defiance, yet in 
those days of autocratic foreign rule such a raid was bound to 
have devastating effect on the meagre finances of the paper. But 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi forged ahead and continued his 
tirade against the Press Laws. 

According to a report published in Pratap, dated 26 April, 
the raid on the house of Shiv Narain Misra was comparable 
to a dacoity by the police. The behaviour of the police was con¬ 
demned by readers in their letters to the editor. Even some of the 
contemporary newspapers like the Abhyudaya (Allahabad) and 
the Patliputra (Patna) created doubts in the minds of the sub¬ 
scribers of the Pratap. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, alarmed by 
the adverse effects, published a signed note in the issue of 5 
July to dispel such doubts. However, even in the second year, 
the Pratap was running at a loss. It was compelled to issue an 
appeal to the subscribers to enrol at least five more subscribers 
so that the paper could tide over the financial crisis. 

Another Special Number 

Undaunted by pecuniary difficulties the editor published a 



Rashtriya Ank on the third anniversary of the establishment of 
the Pratap. It contained 70 pages and was priced only six annas. 
The special number enabled the Pratap to regain its popularity. 
It again started its tirade against the exploitation of the Indians 
overseas and demanded redress to their grievances. It also publi¬ 
shed a pamphlet entitled “Coolie Pratha” and created a flutter 
in official circles. 

In October 1916, under the Press Act of 1910, the U.P. 
Government demanded a security of rupees one thousand from 
the Pratap press. Failure to deposit it would have led to the 
closure of the press as well as the paper. Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi pleaded with the authorities that, in case of New 
India published and edited by Mrs. Annie Besant, it was held 
that security could not be demanded if that was not taken at the 
very start of that. Mohamed Ali also put forth the same plea 
when the security was demanded from the Comrade on its publi¬ 
cation from Delhi. But the Government turned down the requests. 
So Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi decided to deposit the security 
under protest and then appealed against it. The District 
Magistrate cancelled his original order dispensing with security 
and accepted the security on 2 November 1916. 

At the Indian National Congress, Lucknow session in 1916 
delegates pleaded with Mahatma Gandhi to visit Champaran and 
take up their cause. Mahatma Gandhi at first declined, as in the 
words of D.G. Tendulkar, he “had not heard of the place and he 
did not know its geographical position”. However, due to the 
mandate of the Congress at Lucknow, he visited Kanpur, and 
stayed at the Pratap office on 1 January 1917. It was here that he 
assured the Bihar delegates that he would visit Bihar in March- 
April 1917. 

In April 1917, when Mahatma Gandhi reached Motihari and 
Betia, the Pratap highlighted the importance of his mission. Its 
special correspondent reported day to day activities and also the 
panic created among the indigo planters due to Mahatma’s visit. 



On 9 August 1917, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was summoned 
to the court by the magistrate and told that the Government 
had taken exception to the articles published in the issues of the 
Pratap, dated 4,11 and 18 June, regarding tyranny in Champaran. 
He was warned for spreading hatred against the European 
subjects of His Majesty. He was also informed that he had pre¬ 
viously been warned twice, and thereafter would be proceeded 
against under the Press Act. According to the editor, this state¬ 
ment of the magistrate was wrong, as he had been warned only 
once, for his article on Irish revolt in July 1916, and not twice. 
[Editorial dated 13 August 1917]. 

Seditious Poems 

As the leading Hindi weekly, the Pratap, had been publish¬ 
ing patriotic poems, the authorities objected to them also. The 
poem published in the issue of 19 June 1916 was strongly objec¬ 
ted to. It read as follows: 

“Oh slavery, why art thou relentlessly pursuing us? 
Have some pity at least now, why art thou pecking at the heart? 
Thou hast taken away wealth and glory 

and hast derived us of freedom. 

What has been left with us now that thou 
accused one, art casting greedy looks? 

We are well covered with the robe of poverty. 

O tyrant! why are thou slaughtering us, 
starved though we are? 

Leaving the whole creation thou hast settled here, 

O! accursed one, why dost thou intend to suck our blood?” 

This poem was taken as a pretext for demand of security. 
But even after that Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi continued to 
publish patriotic and inspiring poems. In the issue of 13 August 
1917, he published a poem by Trishool entitled “Sri Krishna 



Vinay” (Prayer to Lord Krishna), seeking his help to protect 
the oppressed. This was followed by the publication of yet 
another poem “Ma” (mother) by Jagganath Joshi in the issue 
of 24 September, exhorting Indians to engage themselves fear¬ 
lessly and firmly in constitutional agitation for the attainment 
of self-government. On Vijai Dashmi in 1917, he brought a special 
number entitled “Rashtriya Ank” (National Number) despite 
warnings and governmental actions. Poems and articles publi¬ 
shed in the Pratap continued to be examined by local officials. 

Forfeiture of Security 

In the issue of the Pratap dated 22 April 1918, a poem entitled 
‘Soudai Vatan’ by Nanak Singh Hamdam was published, the 
same was declared as seditious. The security of rupees one 
thousand deposited by the Pratap in 1916 was declared forfeited 
and a fresh one was demanded by the Government. This action 
was taken under Sec. 4(1) of the Press Act. The forfeiture of 
the security was a severe blow to the Pratap but it burst into 
poetry, bemoaning the lot. It wrote: 

“It has been wounded, and the pain is incessantly severe; 

Now it is upto you to either put ointment on that or pour 
salt on that.” 

The Pratap ceased publication for some time. But the public 
sympathy was so great that the money required for deposit of 
security was soon collected and deposited on 8 July 1918. The 
paper resumed publication. The total subscription received in the 
Pratap Aid Fund reached an unexpected figure of rupees eight 
thousand and the editor thanked the public, donors and well- 
wishers wholeheartedly. It was apprehended that the local 
authorities in order to see the paper stop publication might 
demand the maximum security of rupees ten thousand, but it 
had to deposit only rupees one thousand. So when substantial 
balance was left in the press account, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
and Shiv Narain Misra decided to give the Pratap more stability. 



Creation of a Trust 

Having built up the Pratap press and the paper by sheer 
personal valour and labour, sacrifice and exemplary courage, 
it was a proud day for Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi to declare 
it public property. So a Trust was created and registered as such 
on i3 March 1919. The following became its trustees; (i) Maithili 
Saran Gupta, Chirgaon; (ii) Dr. Jawahar Lai Rohatgi, Kanpur, 
(iii) Phoolchand, Kanpur, (iv) Shiv Narain Misra, Vaidya, 
Kanpur, (v) Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Kanpur. 

Consequent to the creation of the Trust, the District Magis¬ 
trate, Kanpur, Stiffe passed an amazing order on 24 April 
1919. The order read, “I see no reason to exempt this paper 
from security. The new printer (Mr. Shiv Narain Misra) has 
long been connected with the paper which is notorious. It had 
been warned twice and had its security (of Rs. 1,000) forfeited 
once in 20 months I have been here. The late printer (Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi) who has joined the (Trust) Committee has 
been prominent in the recent hartals, and in times of disturbances 
like the present it is obviously necessary to keep a firm hand 
on the press. I therefore, fix the security to be filed at Rs. 2,000/- 
and have warned the printer that he is not at liberty to publish 
the paper until the security has been filed in my court.” 

The Pratap bore the brunt and deposited the security as 
demanded; and resumed publication after a gap of two or three 
days only. Only the next number of the paper was delayed. But 
its enthusiasm was not damped. On Deepawali day in November 
1918, it brought out a special number entitled Swarajya 
(Independence) with all its fanfare and celebrated its fifth birth 

Gandhian Era 

In the words of M. Chalapathi Rau, “Gandhi was probably 
the greatest journalist of all times and the weeklies he ran and 



edited were probably the greatest weeklies the world has known.” 
It was he who evolved the technique of the press acting as a 
weapon of Satyagraha. And the publication of the Satyagrahi 
on 7 April 1919, opened a new vista in the role of Press in the 
freedom struggle. Gandhi issued detailed instructions as to how 
civil disobedience was to be offered by selling proscribed books 
and publishing unregistered newspaper. When Mahatmaji 
translated that into action, its example was followed by Press in 
U.P. and other provinces. 

The Independent (Allahabad) in its very first issue proclaimed 
its ideal of acting as an organ of democracy. Its emergence on 
5 February 1919 was acclaimed as “a sign of national awakening 
in U.P”. Its subsequent issues highlighted the cases of other 
presses in the country and demand of security from the Pratap 
was commented upon. Action was also taken against the 
Independent (Allahabad). 

Worst Crisis for Pratap 

The leading Hindi weekly of Kanpur continued to champion 
the cause of the kisans and workers. In 1921, it highlighted the 
agrarian disturbances in the districts of Rae Bareli and Sultanpur. 
The newspaper carried varied account with big headlines and 
terrific posters of agrarian riots in U.P. It was transmitted to 
London that the police authorities were unable to control the 
mobs and Bolshevik influence might penetrate India. The 
Secretary of State for India was unduly alarmed and telegraphi¬ 
cally asked for a report from the then Viceroy on 12 January 
1921. In reply it was clarified by the U.P. Government that the 
problem in fact was social and economic rather than political. 
There was no information to show that the movement had been 
directly inspired or controlled by Mahatma Gandhi. 

The Pratap like other newspapers published the reports of 
the riots in its issues of 13 and 17 January 1921, and compared 
repression to Dyer’s massacre at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar. 



Having supported the cause of the tenantry the paper attained 
unprecedented popularity all over U.P. and the then Governor 
Harcourt Butler felt unnerved. The Government initiated action 
against the Editor, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi and the Printer, 
Shiv Narain Misra of the Pratap (Kanpur) under Sec. 108 of the 
Criminal Procedure Code and demanded securities. 

The District Magistrate of Kanpur served a notice on the 
Editor and Printer of the Pratap on 27 April 1921 under Sec. 
108, for having been guilty of spreading sedition and bringing 
His Majesty the King into disrepute. The articles objected to were 
dated 12 January on Rae Bareli massacre; 10 February, entit¬ 
led the same and 11 February, article on Fyzabad disturbances 
and the official version. They were asked to show cause why they 
be not asked to deposit personal bonds of rupees five thousand 
each and securities of the like amount. The Printer, Shiv Narain 
Misra filed a declaration in the court of the District Magistrate 
that he was no more the keeper and printer of the Pratap Weekly 
as well as the daily. The same was accepted. Krishna Dutt Paliwal 
filed a fresh declaration of being the new keeper and printer. 
The Pratap re-appeared thereafter with reduced number of pages. 
The new keeper and printer was asked to file fresh declaration 
and deposit a security of rupees two thousand. However, on the 
request of the former printer and keeper, the security deposited 
in the name of Shiv Narain Misra was allowed to be transferred 
in the name of Krishna Dutt Paliwal. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi on receipt of fresh summons 
from the Magistrate called a meeting of the Pratap Trustees 
and submitted his resignation so that its assets worth rupees 
fifteen thousand might not be jeopardised. In this way both Shiv 
Narain Misra and Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi separated them¬ 
selves so that even if they executed bonds under Sec. 108, the 
assets of the Pratap would remain intact. 

At Rae Bareli when Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was jailed' 
for the first time, for having written seditious and incriminating 



articles, he was got released only after an hour. His friends and 
well-wishers had deposited his security. But when charged under 
Sec. 108, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, on arrival at Kanpur from 
Rae Bareli was in a defiant mood. He wrote to the Magistrate 
that on 23 May 1921, when his security was deposited, he was 
not a free agent. Therefore, he requested the District Magistrate 
to cancel the security deposited and expressed willingness to go 
to jail. Despite persuasion of the well-wishers, he surrendered to 
the local authorities on 16 October 1921, and thus obliged the 
then foreign government to see him behind the bars. 

A study of the then confidential files reveals that the U.P. 
Government had been castigated by the then Secretary of State, 
Edwin Samuel Montagu for not telegraphing to London first 
hand reports of Rae Bareli riots at once, and having including 
them only in the weekly telegram. From his correspondence with 
the Viceroy, it is evident that the whole of the London Press 
was clamorous about the riots in Rae Bareli as they scented 
spread of Bolshevism in India. So, in order to cover up their 
lapse, the U.P. Government and local authorities of Kanpur 
seized the opportunity to send Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
to Central Jail, Lucknow on 25 October 1921. As he had been 
sentenced to three months’ imprisonment in Rae Bareli case, 
his appeal in the Chief Court, Lucknow, remained pending till 
1 February 1922 when he learnt in jail that the same had been 
rejected. After completing his term of imprisonment, he was 
released from Lucknow District Jail on 22 May 1922. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had recorded his reminiscences 
of jail life in a diary and subsequently wrote, “Glimpses of Jail 
Life” in twelve serials, published in the Pratap. In the issue of 
31 May 1921, he also clarified why he had refused to file his 
statement in the court. He was emotional and he refused to 
disown his responsibility although he had ceased to be the editor 
of the Pratap. The charges levelled against him were such, as 
could never have been regarded as appropriate for his prosecu¬ 
tion under Section 108. He did his duty in exposing ‘the uncalled- 



for’ firing on the kisans in Munshiganj and Fursatganj of Rae 
Bareli district. In the prevailing atmosphere in the districts, he 
was not hopeful of justice, so he declined to file his written 
statement. He was facing a contempt case for the same reasons 
in Rae Bareli court, so he thought his attempt at defence would 
be futile. 

Daily Pratap 

On 22 November 1920, the Pratap weekly announced that the 
daily Pratap had also been published and specimen copy could 
be had free of charge from Pratap office. It was priced at one anna 
per copy, and the annual subscription was only rupees eighteen. 
In an editorial, it was explained why after seven years’ existence, 
the Pratap press had ventured on such a task. It was impelled by 
its ardent desire to serve the country, which was passing through 
a critical period, more vigorously and promptly. It was really 
a herculean task to bring out a Hindi daily in days of non¬ 
cooperation, and in defiance of all Press Laws and Surveillance 
by local authorities on the press. 

Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi congratulated the Pratap 
on its emergence as a daily and felt proud that it had risen to his 
expectations. In a short time of only seven years it had endeared 
itself to thousands of its subscribers and had accredited itself well. 
He prayed for its prosperity and popularity. He wanted the 
Pratap to attain the status of the Times (London) in India. 

Within a few days the number of subscribers of the daily 
Pratap rose to five thousand, and so long it was published it 
maintained its decorum and stature. It never compromised its 
ideals; and due to adverse circumstances it was closed down on 
6 July 1921. 

Warning again 

During the post-War period there were a number of Hindi 



newspapers, and outstanding journalists in northern India. The 
Bharat Mitra (Calcutta), Vijaya (Delhi) and the Swatantra 
started in 1920 were holding their ground, despite competition 
and government repression. The Aj of Benares was also started 
in 1920. The Arjim (Delhi) started in 1923 went through many 
vicissitudes being prosecuted by Government from time to time. 
But among the most prominent Hindi newspapers the name of 
the Pratap (Kanpur) remained at the top, despite warnings and 
prosecution of its Editor, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. 

Although Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had been elected as a 
member of the U.P. Legislative Council, yet the local authorities 
left no stone unturned to harass him. When in the issue of 4 
December 1927 he wrote his famous editorial entitled “Birds of 
the same feather”—referring to a debate in the British Parliament 
on the proposed appointment of Administrative Reforms Enquiry 
Commission, the local authorities treated that as seditious. In 
the House of Lords, Lord Birkenhead, Lord Oliver, Lord Read¬ 
ing and Lord Chelmsford spoke and in the House of Commons, 
leaders of the various political parties expressed their views. 
According to the learned and outspoken editor, the members of 
the British Labour Party as well as those of the Liberal Party, 
were all unanimous in maintaining the stranglehold of slavery 
on Indians. So naturally all Indians agreed in raising their 
common voice to boycott the Reforms Commission, having no 
Indian on that. After exposing the real intents of the British 
leaders of all parties, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi alleged that 
Indians were being enslaved more and more in all matters. There 
was no end to their exploitation. He also cited the case of 
the alarming import of vegetable oil in the country during the 
preceding two or three years. The then District Magistrate of 
Kanpur, Munro, summoned him and on behalf of the U.P. 
Government administered a warning on 9 January 1928 for 
having spread disaffection against His Majesty’s loyal subjects. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi remained unahected by the 
aforesaid warning and continued his triade against the 



Champaran atrocities. His articles and comments again attracted 
attention of the local authorities and one more stern warning was 
administered to him on 15 January 1928. 

In May 1929, the Weekly Pratap was banned in the neighbour¬ 
ing country of Nepal as it had adversely commented on the 
administrative alfairs of the country. In its issue of 5 May, the 
paper expressed surprise at the action of the administration as it 
could have sent its rejoinder or counter-statement clarifying the 
matter. This policy was followed by the paper in respect of 
Indian states as well. Affairs of Gwalior, Mewar, Jaipur, Udaipur, 
Indore, Tehri and other states came in for comments and ex¬ 
position much to the chagrin of the ruling princes. According to 
Vijai Singh Pathik, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, at great personal 
risk, started fanning political awakening in Rajasthan states as 
early as 1915. He was equally inspiring to the Gwalior State, even 
though his father was its employee. At one time he refused to 
withdraw the allegations published in the Pratap and even dared 
request his father to resign and come back from Gwalior to 
Kanpur. On another occasion, when he was face to face with the 
ruler, he promised to publish a corrigendum to what the corres¬ 
pondent had sent if that was wrong. Besides that, when he was 
offered travelling expenses for going to Gwalior, he declined to 
accept that as he was on duty there to investigate the truth. 
When the ruler insisted that he should accept the travelling 
expenses as the state was not poor, he retorted that the Pratap 
too was not poor. A rare example of high idealism indeed. 

In short the editor of the Pratap was doing pioneer service to 
the people of the then Indian states, which later on was taken 
up by the Praja Parishads and the Indian States People’s Congress. 
And he did all that despite the Princes Protection Act 1922 being 
on the Statute Book. The then Viceroys were committed to the 
protection of the Indian princes against disaffection . Action was 
taken against leading nationalist papers like the Amrit Bazar 
Patrika (Calcutta) and the Hindu (Madras), which were banned 
in the States of Patiala and Hyderabad. Despite such odd 



provisions, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi continued his successful 
and forceful advocacy of the cause of the states’ people through 
his paper. A collection of the articles published on states alone 
can form a historical treatise on the wrongs being suffered by 
the states’ people in the erstwhile Indian states. 

Prosecution of Books 

The Pratap press was fast becoming a publisher and distributer 
of nationalist literature. Books after books, on jail life, nationalist 
leaders and Bolshevism were printed and distributed at cheap 
price. In July 1929, one of the publications entitled War of Irish 
Independence was proscribed, and as many as 166 copies in the 
stock were seized. 

Another book entitled Martyrs of Kakori Case also met the 
same fate. The book entitled Bolshevik Russia was still in print 
and notices regarding that were taken away during search of the 
press. Shiv Narain Tandon, however, succeeded in publishing 
one of its pages in the issue of the Partap dated 6 March 1930. 
It was entitled An Event of the Russian Revolution, giving a 
graphic description of the Czar in captivity and surrounding of 
his Winter Palace. The Bolshevik soldiers were bent upon taking 
possession of the royal palaces and thus ending the tyrannous 
Czarist regime. There was also a talk between a soldier and 
a worker and it highlighted they were responsible to revolution 

Action under Press Ordinances 

With the launching of civil disobedience movement by 
Mahatma Gandhi, the Government of India issued as many as 
seven Ordinances to combat anarchy, terrorism and mass agita¬ 
tion. Two of these related to the Press. The Ordinance No. II 
promulgated on 27 April, restored some of the provisions of the 
Press Act on 1910. The U.P. Government had already initiated 



action against the leading presses and against even cyclostyled 
news-sheets like Satyagraha Samachar. The Pratap press, after 
the promulgation of the Ordinance II, 1930, was required to 
furnish fresh security. It was warned for the publication of an 
article Sacrifice of Sardar Bhagat Singh in the issue of 19 April. 
The editor was summoned by the magistrate on II May and 

Due to the failure to deposit fresh security of rupees three 
thousand, the Pratap after the issue dated 4 May was closed. 
It ceased publication for the next six months; i.e., during the 
pendency of the Ordinance II, 1930. Most of the language papers 
met the same fate in U.P. The Indian Press Ordinance which 
lapsed on 26 October 1930 was followed by the Press and Un¬ 
authorised News-Sheets and Newspapers Ordinance of 23 
December 1930. After its expiry on 22 June 1931 followed the 
most comprehensive Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act from 
9 October 1931. 

Closure of the Pratap for six months made its financial situa¬ 
tion worst. Its editors, joint editors and most of the trustees were 
in jail, but even then after six months associate editor Prakash 
Narain Shiromani restarted the paper. He was ably aided by the 
eldest son of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Harishankar who had 
left studies due to civil disobedience movement. He continued 
to pilot the paper till the martyrdom of Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, and even after that. The Pratap, however, survived 
the onslaugths under the Press Laws. 


Defiant Journalis 


THE DIFFICULTIES and challenges that the editor of the 
Pratap (Kanpur) had to face were not confined to Press Laws 
alone, but they went further. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, in his 
ardent zeal to champion the cause of the poor kisans and to 
expose the corrupt and tyrannical officers, got involved in con¬ 
tempt cases. He also incurred the wrath of the then officials who 
constantly tried to seek any opportunity to nab him. Yet he 
braved all challenges and his paper survived the onslaughts. 

First Contempt Case 

While publishing reports about the agrarian riots at Rae 
Bareli, the Pratap in its issues dated 13 and 17 January 1921, 
exposed the misdeeds of one Birpal Singh,* a local taluqdar, who 
according to the tenants had fired a number of rounds. Six dead 
bodies were reported to have been recovered from beneath a 
culvert. There were all sorts of rumours, and published versions 

Sardar Birpal Singh was reported to have taken an active part 
on behalf of and in support of the district authorities. People 
complained against him. The Government did not pay heed to 
them and in its communique offered all kinds of defence on his 
behalf. The editor of the Pratap had on the other hand deputed 
his special correspondent to send first-hand reports, so did not 
doubt the narrative published. Sardar Birpal Singh took exception 
to the articles published in the Pratap and its editorial thereon. 

*Sardar Birpal Singh, a descendent of Raja Ranjeet Singh, Taluqdar. 




He threatened legal action for libel if no apology was tendered. 
But Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was not to be cowed down; so 
he had to face the long drawn out Contempt Case at Rae Bareli. 

Sardar Birpal Singh filed a contempt case in Rae Bareli Court 
against the editor and the printer Shiv Narain Misra under 
Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
replied to his notice that he would file all evidence in the Court 
and there was no question of tendering an apology. Consequently 
the case was started on 5 February 1921 and continued for six 
months. As many as fifty defence witnesses gave their evidence. 
The list included eminent leaders like Pandit Motilal Nehru, 
Jawaharlal Nehru, C.S. Ranga Iyer, Krishnaram Mehta, Dr. 
Avantiprasad, Devidutt Dwivedi, Jagganath Prasad Shukla, 
Rama Shankar Awasthi, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Sahdeo 
Tripathi, Vishambhar Dayal Tripathi, Syed Iqbal Husain and 
others. Their evidence was recorded till 16 July 1921. The whole 
process comprised of 62 days of hearing of defence witnesses. 

The evidence of Pandit Motilal Nehru was one of the most 
important ones. According to him on hearing about the incident 
at Rae Bareli, he had reached the place the very next day and 
learnt about the firing at Munshiganj from Jawaharlal Nehru 
and others. All were unanimous that Birpal Singh had a consider¬ 
able hand in the incident as he was the right hand man of the 
Deputy Commissioner, Rae Bareli. People asserted that if he had 
not been there, the firing would not have taken place. Some 
policemen also said that the first shot was fired by Birpal Singh 
although he denied that. 

Next to Motilal Nehru, Rama Shankar Awasthi, Editor of 
Dainik Vartman (Kanpur) gave his evidence. He contended that 
he had primarily come to listen to Pandit Madan Mohan 
Malaviya’s statement and he had not filed copies of Vartman in 
the Court. On 15 July, Madan Mohan Malaviya gave his evidence. 
It was the 62nd day of the Case. He had visited Munshiganj 
culvert and found blood stains there, He was joined by Raja 



Rampal Singh and met Birpal Singh also who denied that he had 
fired the first shot. In his statement before the Commissioner, 
Birpal Singh admitted that he was present at the Munshiganj 
affairs; but he could not say who fired the first shot. He only fired 
one cartridge when attacked. According to Deputy Commis¬ 
sioner’s report his revolver had seven cartridges, five of which 
were recovered live and only two had been fired. 

The Pratap contempt case was defended by Dr. Jaikarannath 
Misra, assisted by seven or eight leading advocates. There was 
always a crowd near the court. People came from Kanpur in 
batches and the case took a political turn. The situation remained 
tense. The result of the case was anxiously awaited all over the 
Provinces. On 30 July 1921, Munshi Maqsood Khan the trying 
magistrate gave his verdict in the case. Both the accused were 
charge-sheeted under two sections and there was great excitement 
in Rae Bareli. According to the judgment both the accused were 
held guilty of contempt and awarded three months’ imprisonment 
and a fine of rupees five hundred each. Both the sentences were 
to run concurrently. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi and Shiv 
Narain Misra were cheered lustily. For some time there was 
satisfaction in the official circles as their critics had been 
convicted of libel and sent to jail. 

Dr. Jaikarannath Misra showed unusual alertness. Despite’ 
hurdles put by the local authorities, he got securities deposited 
to the tune of four thousand rupees and got both of them released 
from jail the same day. Both the accused did not favour that they 
should be got released on bail or any appeal be filed against the 
sentences in the Chief Court, Lucknow. But their friends and 
well-wishers willed otherwise and got them released. An appeal 
was also filed much against their wishes. 

The hearing of the appeal by Justice Sherring also took months 
and on 4 February 1922, he too dismissed that. During this period 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, on reaching Kanpur, got his bail 
cancelled and courted imprisonment. He was thus already in jail 



when the appeal was rejected; so he got the two sentences run 
concurrently. Shiv Narain Misra, who had been sentenced to 
three months’ jail, got his amnesty due to the visit of the Prince 
of Wales; so he had to stay in jail only for a few days. The fine- 
money after being realised from both the accused, was got paid 
to Sardar Birpal Singh. 

The Pratap (Kanpur) had to incur heavy expenditure on the 
contempt case. According to some estimates, it totalled about 
rupees thirty thousand. The paper, its editor and printer, did 
sulfer a defeat in the court, but in the eyes of kisans and the public 
in general, they became heroes. The tyranny undergone by kisans 
in Awadh was made known to the world and Partap'*s stand was 
vindicated. According to Sriram Sharma, Editor of Vishal Bharat, 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi fought the contempt case tenaciously 
as he believed that the cause of the Awadh kisans would go by 
default, it was said in the bureaucratic circles that public life 
in U,P. could not be safe unless the Pratap was crushed. But 
Ganesh Shankar was unmoved by such threats and he sacrificed 
his personal interests and money for the defence of a noble 

As already narrated the officials had succeeded in nabbing 
him under Sec. 108 and he voluntarily obliged them by surrender- 
’ ing. Due to financial difficulties the daily edition of the Pratap 
started on 22 November 1920 ceased publication. Men like Sriram 
Sharma had to leave the press. 

Second Contempt Case 

In 1926, the editor and the printer of the Pratap (Kanpur) 
were again hauled up in the Mainpuri Court for contempt. The 
case was filed by a sub-inspector of police, Sheo Dayal Singh who 
was notorious for taking bribes in Shikohabad. He used to 
harass the public like anything. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi took 
pains to send his special correspondents to investigate matters 
and thereafter started exposing him. From his point of view there 



was a prima facie case against him, so he published details in the 

Sheo Dayal Singh got notices served against Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, as editor and Surendra Sharma as printer to appear 
in the magistrate’s court on 12 August 1926. He alleged that the 
letters published in the Pratap against him were forged and so 
the editor and publisher were guilty of libel under Sec. 500 of the 
Indian Penal Code. The case was started in the Court of Jwala 
Prasad, first class magistrate of Mainpuri. 

The Pratap in its defence filed as many as thirteen specific 
cases of bribe-taking. As many as 114 witnesses were cited, but 
later on only 41 gave their evidence. Despite such an overwhelm¬ 
ing proof, the magistrate was not convinced of the charges levelled 
against the sub-inspector of police who was the kingpin of the 
bureaucracy under the foreign rule. According to him the editor 
and the printer were found guilty and on 17 November 1926 he 
delivered his judgment; awarding a fine of rupees four hundred 
on each and sentences of six months’ imprisonment. 

It was also mentioned in the judgment that four hundred 
rupees would be paid to Sheo Dayal Singh as compensation. 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi felt aggrieved and said to the magis¬ 
trate that he had been unjust to him. He was not prepared to pay 
the fine and would prefer to go to jail in lieu of that. The 
magistrate was hnmoved. The defence case was argued by Babu 
Kalicharan of Mainpuri and Baijnath. Jaspati Rai Kapur, M.A., 
LL.B. helped them. The case lasted for eight months and cost 
the Pratap about three thousand rupees. 

But Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi’s friends and admirers in 
Mainpuri deposited the amount of security and got him released. 
It was also decided to file an appeal. The fine-money was also 
deposited and only after twentyfour hours they were again out of 
the jail. When the appeal was filed in the court of District and 
Sessions Judge, there was not much change. P.K. Rai, the Judge, 
in February 1927 upheld the judgment of the lower court and 



even recommended enhancement of the sentences by the 
appellate court. 

Due to the verdict of the sessions judge the case went up to 
the High Court for review and after preliminary investigation, 
the case was listed before the bench of Justice Walsh and Justice 
Banerjee. By 28 March 1927 the learned judges concluded that 
the accused were not guilty and so acquitted them of libel charges 
under Section 500. They also commented that their being ardent 
congressmen, did not take them out of the purview of justice and 
vindication of truth. The editor of the Pratap had published the 
letters and reports against the sub-inspector of police in good 
faith. Considering the good of the public, they could not be held 
guilty, so were acquitted of libel charges. 

As regards the charges of corruption and taking of bribe, the 
judges held that the sub-inspector of police had already been 
investigated against departmentally on as many as four charges; 
so he should be prosecuted if found guilty. The case should be 
referred to a Sessions Judge who had no connection with the 
case. It was reported that the Superintendent of Police stopped 
his enquiry, the moment the contempt case was filed in the local 

Echo in U.P. Council 

Further details came to light when the contempt case found 
echo in the U.P. Legislative Council of which Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was also a member. In reply to a question, the U.P. 
Government stated that the High Court withdrew the direction 
to take cognizance of the alleged charges and institute judicial 
proceedings against the sub-inspector, Sheo Dayal Singh of 
Shikohabad. According to government’s interpretation they were 
merely to be brought to the notice of the District Magistrate; and 
it was for him to judge on what observations enquiry was to be 
done and action taken against him. 



Pandit Gobind Ballabh Pant, leader of the Swaraj party, was 
not satisfied with government’s reply, and he queried whether 
the Government had granted prior permission to the sub-inspector 
of police to file the case against the Pratap, pending enquiry by 
the Superintendent of Police. The reply was in the affirmative. 
He also enquired from the government if the High Court found 
that the charges were false. To this the reply was that the High 
Court did not agree with the Lower Court that the charges 
against the newspaper were not correct. According to the govern¬ 
ment clarification the High Court did not mention in the judg¬ 
ment that the charges against the sub-inspector were prima-fade 
true; and that a case be started against him in the sessions court. 
Pandit Pant further queried if the High Court withdrew the 
direction because of the Government advocate’s arguments under 
Section 476 and 195 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The Govern¬ 
ment feigned ignorance about all that. As regards departmental 
enquiry it was pointed out in the House that the Superintendent 
of Police would report to the District Magistrate and then they 
would see whether there was any substance in the charges against 
the sub-inspector of police. 

Immediately after the delivery of the judgment in the con¬ 
tempt case, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi felt so mortified that he 
wrote an article entitled On the Path of Sacrifice in the issue of 
21 November 1926, under the pseudonym ‘follower’ with his 
photograph in the middle. Its text shows how touchy and con¬ 
scientious he was. But on the other hand he was dedicated to 
the Almighty, whom he saw in the abodes of the Dradranarayan 
—the poor and the downtrodden. Again and again he wished 
how he could die or sacrifice for such a noble fight against bribery 
and corruption. He exclaimed that his only fault was that he 
raised his voice against injustice, atrocity and tyranny of corrupt 
officials. Another crime of his was that he had extended his hand 
for the service of the tortured and exploited. Although he felt 
so sore, his stand was vindicated when the High Court bench 
quashed the punishment awarded by the lower court. 



Saikheda Contempt Case 

Ink had hardly dried on the Mainpuri Contempt Case, when 
on 20 April 1.928, the editor of the Pratap received summons for 
the third contempt case. This time the complainant was Guru 
Keshavanand alias Dandi Swami, Saikheda Godara, Narsingh- 
pur (Madhya Pradesh). The contempt case was listed for 27 
April in the Lucknow District Court. 

The editor was charged with having committed a libel by 
publishing a distorted version of baredada (elderly) Maharaj 
Dhuniwale in its issue of 25 September 1,927. Exception was taken 
particularly to the three words about the Swami, i.e. Dhongi 
(hypocrite), Aat-tayi (tyrannical) and Jaghanya (abominable). 
In the article, evil practices and vulgar rituals performed were 

The publication of the article, it was alleged, alfected the 
prestige of the saint adversely, so he demanded damages to the 
tune of rupees five thousand. Court fee for the case amounting 
to rupees two hundred seventyfive was duly deposited. The 
complainant prayed for a decree of rupees five thousand against 
the Pratap plus damages, expenses, etc. 

It was found out that formerly the saint had been known as 
Swami Bhaskartirtha who had also enrolled himself as a satya- 
grahi in U.P. He was also known as Guru Keshavananda alias 
Dandi Swami. He lived as a disciple of elderly Maharaj Dhuniwale 
and manager of Saikheda ashram. But due to differences, the 
disciple, in the article exposed the elderly Maharaj. The Pratap 
cautiously printed the details so that the public in general might 
not fall a victim to his machinations. But when the article was 
published, the disciple also turned against the editor of the 
Pratap^ alleging that he had published his article in a distorted 
form which had led to the defamation of his guru. 

The editor of the Pratap taking entire responsibility on his 
shoulders even expressed regret but the disciple filed the con- 



tempt case on 19 March 1928. The Pratap organised its defence; 
and prepared evidence. But in the meantime Raja Prithvipal 
Singh of Barabanki intervened, before the court could take up 
the case, and got a settlement done on 11 September 1929. The 
complaint was withdrawn, so the third contempt case ended 
without loss or expenses to the Pratap or its editor. 

Contempt of High Court 

While the Saikheda contempt case was in progress, the 
Pratap got involved in the fourth contempt case in the High 
Court of Allahabad. It published reports about the riot in Naini 
Jail on 22 April 1928 and a note entitled “Dublish” (an accused 
in the Kakori Train Dacoity Case). The High Court of Allahabad 
treated that as contempt of the honourable court and issued 
notice against the Pratap for contempt of court. 

The formal notice was issued on 30 July 192,8. The note 
in the Pratap was written under a misapprehension. As an 
enquiry was being conducted in the Naini Jail regarding riot by 
prisoners, it was thought to be a departmental enquiry and not 
a judicial one. So the editor allowed the note to be published. 
But when it was learnt that the enquiry was being conducted by 
Magistrate Mahendra Prasad as a judicial one, the editor realised 
that he had no right to write that note while the matter was 

As soon as Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi realised the mistake, 
he hastened to make amends. Fearlessly he admitted his fault 
and explained the situation under which the ‘technical error’ 
had been committed. He clarified that he had no desire to commit 
any contempt of the High Court. He also expressed regret for the 
error committed inadvertently. When the case came up for hear¬ 
ing on 30 July 1928, the editor conveyed his regrets to the Court 
and the case was dropped the same day. Thus the Pratap was 
saved from financial loss of punishment in the fourth contempt 




Besides the above-mentioned contempt cases, the Pratap 
and its editor had to face a number of piquant situations. It 
needs hardly be stressed that Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi neither 
allowed his nor his paper’s pride to be lowered. Thanks to his 
resourcefulness he never compromised the honour of his own 
and the country. In the words of the great Hindi poet, Maithili 
Saran Gupta, the Pratap as a leading Hindi journal was published 
with a fanfare of its own and within a short time it became the 
most representative of Hindi poets and writers. Munshi Prem 
Chand, it is said, switched over from Urdu to Hindi, under the 
influence of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, who always believed in 
the proverb, ‘example is better than precept’. He patronised 
young writers, and even revolutionary poets, and published 
their inspiring poems in the Pratap. Although the ‘Sword of 
Democles’ was always hanging over his head, he never faltered 
in his resolve. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was always alert and resourceful. 
Maithili Saran Gupta had related one interesting anecdote. 
When he was sitting in the Pratap ofi&ce one day, a person came 
and talked to the manager of the press, Harprasad Goel. There¬ 
after he demanded a printed cover (envelope) of the Pratap 
and then got the address of the then Viceroy written on that. 
As he was known as a writer on Indian states to Guptaji, he grew 
suspicious and related the matter to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. 
The resourceful editor got scent of the whole matter and decided 
to get the envelope taken out of the letter-box. It was revealed 
from the contents of the letter that vulgar and abusive matter 
was being sent to the Viceroy in Pratap envelope, regarding the 
then princely states so that action might be taken against the 

A similar incident has been related by Brindabanlal Varma, 
which occurred at Agra in 1913. At that time Rabindra Nath 
Tagore, on having been awarded the Nobel Laureate distinc- 



tion, was being accorded a reception. As soon as the distinguish¬ 
ed poet said that he was being honoured only when his talent had 
been recognised abroad, young Ganesh Shankar exclaimed, ‘Oh!’ 
The audience was taken aback. But Brindabanlal Varma was 
very much impressed by the fearless youngman. Subsequently 
when Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi invited him to become corres¬ 
pondent of the Pratap, he readily agreed. According to Dr. 
Varma, Bhatt used to write under pseudonym of Golmalanand, 
Mannan Dwivedi Gajpuri as Gadbadanand and Shri Varma 
as Gitpitanand all three combined, produced humorous articles 
in the name of Golmal Karini Sabha. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
printed off their dialogues without hesitation. At times, sketches 
and cartoons were also published. 

Contacts with Raja Mahendra Pratap 

In 1,922, the Pratap published the text of a letter received 
from Raja Mahendra Pratap, President, Provisional Govern¬ 
ment of India, formed at Kabul with Barkatullah as Prime 
Minister and Obeidullah as Minister for India, expressing 
surprise on his having accepted the citizenship of Afghanistan. 
The editor clarified the position by adding that he had only ex¬ 
pressed surprise and enquired as to when, and how he had 
acquired Afghanistan citizenship. Publicity was also given to 
his book entitled. The Book of the Religion of Love. It was 
also revealed that Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had met Raja 
Mahendra Pratap at Gurukul Kangri, Hardwar, when the latter 
was staying at Kankhal and undergoing treatment from the 
famous Ayurvedic Vaidya, Yogeshwar. At that time Ganesh 
Shankar was a frequent visitor to Gurukul Kangri established by 
Swami Shradhanand across the river Ganges. It was at that time 
that Harishchandra, son of Munshi Ram (Shradhanand) met 
Raja Mahendra Pratap and became his secretary. Raja 
Mahendra Pratap left Bombay for Europe on 12 December 1914, 
and Harishchandra a week later. He had promised to send des¬ 
cription of Kabul for publication. Ever since this contact, Ganesh 



Shankar Vidyarthi developed respect and reverence for the 
arch revolutionary and continued to publish his letters and 
articles with his comments in the Pratap. 

Umbrella for Revolutionaries 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was an idol of the young and they 
were dearest to his heart. He always liked fearless and cheerful 
youths. He disliked sad, dejected and down-hearted young- 
men. He always exhorted them to be brave, and reminded them 
again and again that the future of the country lay with them. 
Although he did not subscribe to revolutionary cult, he treated 
the boys indulging in such activities as his own boys. And when¬ 
ever they were in trouble, he was all out to help them. 

The Pratap office had an inner room, where none could enter 
or stay unless allowed by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. There 
are several anecdotes about affording shelters to revolutionary 
youths. Batukdev Sharma, at one time editor of the Desk, was 
in 1916 working for a monthly magazine published from Bihar 
Angel Press, Bhagalpur, but secretly for the revolutionary party. 
When he learnt that he was going to be arrested, he wrote to 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, at the instance of Ambika Prasad 
Sinha, that if he could utilise his services he might print two 
words in the Pratap signifying that his offer was accepted. To 
his surprise the issue of the Pratap (June/July 1917) carried such 
words and he reached the Pratap and was employed. Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi showed fearlessness, and when the local 
District Magistrate summoned him to explain why he had prin¬ 
ted such “code words”, he retorted that, had he been in his 
place to harbour an Irish revolutionary, he would have done the 
same thing. The District Magistrate was silenced. Sharma 
continued to work in the Pratap office despite police surveillance. 

In the same manner when Sardar Bhagat Singh, as a young 
student in the National College, Lahore, was in trouble, due to 
the insistence of his grandmother for marriage, he found shelter 



at Kanpur. He was advised by his professor Jai Chandra 
Vidyalankar to go to Kanpur and meet Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi. He also gave him an introductory letter; so Bhagat 
Singh left his studies and reached Kanpur in 1924. When 
Bhagat Singh explained to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi that he 
had taken oath to serve the nation “bodily, mentally and 
monetarily”; so he was not prepared to marry, he was given the 
following advice: (a) “Look youngman, to be a lover of freedom 
is like becoming a moth (parwana), which loves a lighted candle 
(shamah). After entering the burning flame, the moth never 
returns to tell other moths that the flame is burning and that they 
should also join it to burn themselves.” 

To this Bhagat Singh replied, “I have come here having taken 
a vow to do and die for my country’s liberty.” 

Thereafter it was said, (b) “For a soldier of the nation, it 
is necessary that he should be above all temptations, including 
the temptation for women.” 

Having listened to the advice, Bhagat Singh is reported to 
have bowed down and touched the feet of Ganesh Shankar and 
promised to do what he had been advised to do. In order to 
prove to be a true soldier, he would take his guidance and would 
be glad to sacrifice his precious life like a moth (parwana). 

On further advice Bhagat Singh changed his name to Balwant 
and joined the service in the office of the Pratap (Kanpur). In 
his spare time, he would study the history of revolutions and 
also books on socialism. As the Pratap office was already a 
rendezvous for other revolutionaries, Bhagat Singh came into 
contact with men like Batukeshwar Dutt, Chandrasekhar Azad, 
Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee, Bejoy Kumar Sinha and others. 

While in the service of the Pratap. Bhagat Singh distributed 
pamphlets written by him and others. A four-page pamphlet, 
dated 1 January 1925 issued under the signature of Bejoy 
Kumar, President Central Council, but in all probability the 



production of Sachindra Nath Sanyal, was widely distributed 
in Bengal, U.P. and Bihar. It claimed to be an organ of the 
Revolutionary Party of India. During the Dussehra festival, 
Bhagat Singh and his five companions proceeded on a mission 
of distribution of swarajya literature published in Hindi in the 
form of leaflets by the Pratap press, Kanpur. He also organi¬ 
sed relief camps during the floods of the Ganges in Kanpur in 
1924. After having stayed for over two months in Kanpur, he 
is reported to have been appointed Headmaster of a national 
school near Kanpur. (Near Aligarh according to Jogesh Chandra 

As the grandmother fell ill after his departure, she expressed 
a desire to see Bhagat Singh. And due to the great effort made 
by Kishan Singh and Maulana Hasrat Mohni, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was prevailed upon to persuade Bhagat Singh to 
return to Lahore, on promise that he would not be forced to 
marry. Early in 1925 he returned to Lahore, but even after the 
recovery of his grandmother he did not go back to Kanpur. 
He had been fully indoctrinated and he decided to fulfil his 
mission at Lahore. 

However, Bhagat Singh remained in touch with the revolu¬ 
tionaries in U.P. and helped in the establishment of the 
Hindustan Republican Association. Bejoy Kumar Sinha had 
narrated that the revolutionaries had received Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi’s blessings ever since the Mainpuri Conspiracy Case. 
He moved heaven and earth to organise their defence. He even 
wrote a special letter to the Sessions Judge, Mainpuri to allow 
the Pratap to depute a special correspondent to cover the pro¬ 
ceedings of the case. (Appendix-A). 

During 1924 and 1925 when dacoities took place at Bamrauli, 
Bichpuri, Dwarkapur and then at Kakori on 9 August 1925, 
the U.P. Government was alarmed and indiscriminate arrests 
followed. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, who was utilising the 
services of many of them as volunteers for the session of the 



All-India Congress in 1925 at Kanpur, felt deserted. JBut he rose 
to the occasion and devoted his efforts to organise their defence. 
In 1927, when the Kakori case prisoners, were illtreated in jail 
and went on hunger-strike in jail, he wrote letters to the Home 
Member, sent telegrams and entreated for award of better treat¬ 
ment to them. When all his efforts failed, he decided to intervene 
and after visiting the jails persuaded the prisoners to end their 
fast. Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee, Gobind Charan Kar, Ramdulare, 
Manmathnath Gupta and Vishnusaran Dublis responded to 
his appeal. 

In the same year, he visited the Central and Borstal Jails, 
Lahore and met Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt, along 
with Dr. Gopi Chand, Srimati Parvati Devi and Sardar Kishan 
Singh. He clearly explained his stand by saying that he did not 
lend credence to offences of violent nature, levied on the revo¬ 
lutionaries, nor support as he was a votary of non-violence. But 
he was fighting for the removal of grievances of political prisoners 
imdergoing long-term sentences and wanted all to raise a con¬ 
certed voice against such malpractices against political prisoners. 
In an editorial dated 18 August 1929, he highlighted the plight 
of political prisoners who were dying by inches. According to 
him fasting unto death was equally painful in comparison to be 
hanged by the noose till one was dead. 

On the other hand, he was equally outspoken to the revo¬ 
lutionaries. Before the Lahore Congress session, he addressed 
them through an editorial dated 1 December 1929, to leave the 
path of violence and join the mainstream of satyagrahis to attain 
independence. He wanted them to do or die, rather than indulge 
in tail-talks. They were advised to leave unwanted discussion 
on violent and non-violent means and learn to sacrifice for the 
common cause. 

Fight for the States’ People 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was one of the earliest votaries 



for the safeguarding of the rights of the people living in the 
States. Their problem was a complicated one and had to be 
viewed in the light of their past, present and the future. An 
important article on the problem of Indian States written by a 
student, published in the issue of Prabha, I January 1921, which 
was edited by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi and Devdutt Sharma, 
reflects his views. 

According to him the then Indian states were an anachronism. 
So there was no place for them in the country. They had to 
go. As most of the rulers employed European officers in high 
posts, they could never safeguard the interests of the subjects. 
It was clear that these states had no infra-structure to have a 
reformed administration. In their courts, at every step, the sub¬ 
jects had to suffer humiliation and indignities. They patronised 
the worst of flattery and sycophancy. They at times had shown 
indulgence in foreigners and given them precedence over their 
own subjects. In short, they had thus lost all sense of self-respect 
and liberty. In actuality there was greater slavery in states than in 
British India. 

In the Indian states there was only one redeeming feature, 
that was the regard displayed by the ruler for his loyal subjects. 
But that was actuated by fear of foreign invasion or attack by 
neighbouring states. As the British Government had guaranteed 
them protection, they had become oblivious of the cooperation 
of their own subjects. Their administration had become lifeless. 

In some states, it could be said that there was good govern¬ 
ment, but according to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi that could 
not be ‘a substitute for self-Government’. The states had an 
oligarchy. In some the power was vested in a few Rajput jagirdars, 
in others a few Maratha sardars dominated. They had autocracy 
and a bureaucratic rule; and the ruling houses were given to a 
life of ease and luxury. The subjects had no say in the administ¬ 
ration. Their rights were almost non-existent. At places there 
were some assemblies and councils, but they had very limited 



powers. In most of the states there was no Arms Act; the arms 
could be kept in unlimited quantity by certain loyal houses. 
None of the states had any free press. The rulers could not 
tolerate any criticism. The Indian States (Protection against 
Disalfection) Act, 1922, safeguarded the ruling princes against 
any criticism by the Press even in British India. 

Having secured adequate protection from the then British 
Government, the ruling princes were emboldened to form a 
Chamber of Princes, wherein they could debate subjects of 
common interest. The ideals pursued by them were poles apart 
from the aspirations of their subjects. Although they did not 
command unstinted loyalty of their subjects, the British 
Government upheld their status and regional rights. They were 
guaranteed protection and succession rights. 

The story of the Indian states did not end there. The very 
number made them the weakest part of Indian polity. The British 
government was most anxious to exploit that. So the Indian 
political leaders could also not remain indifferent. Therefore, 
they wanted the subjects to become conscious of their rights and 
fight for them. For that, they had to organise. In order to enable 
the states’ subjects to voice their grievances, the Pratap opened 
its columns for their exposure. Such an avowed advocacy was 
bound to offer a formidable challenge to its editor from the 
concerned states or their protectors. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi made no secret of his radical 
ideas. He held that the organisation of the princes was to be 
counteracted by their own organisation. The organizers had to 
be fearless; as who feared could not fight for their rights. In his 
words the states were not better than the garbage dumps. There 
might be some gems underneath the dumps, but they had to be 

However, he explained in the articles that he did not advocate 
any violent revolution. The states’ subjects should launch such 
a constitutional agitation which could force them one day to 



abdicate. Only then the state would become a democrat state 
and get its due place in the united India. To conceive such an 
ideal in 1921, redounds to the credit of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, 
who thus became a fore-runner of other leaders in this field. 
According to him, the rulers need not have any fear regarding 
their private properties and family; the descendents of Maharana 
Pratap, Shivaji, Chattrasal, were always entitled to respect from 
all Indians. 

The editor of the Pratap laid stress on constructive work in 
the states as well. It supported the appeal made by Jairam Das 
Daulatram to secretaries of all states to propagate khadi in 
their states. It emphasised the economic distress and unemploy¬ 
ment that prevailed all over the country, which could be alle¬ 
viated to a great extent by the use of home-spun and handwoven 
khadi. Attention of the states, which had not till then responded, 
was to be drawn to that programme. In Gwalior State, Khadi 
Sangh (Association) had been duly established in 1928 and was 
working satisfactorily. 

Apart from giving publicity to constructive programmes in 
the states, the Pratap continued its tirade against atrocities and 
lapses of rulers. Indecent behaviour of the ruler of Alwar 
State in England was published in the 18 August 1929 issue; 
while the police firing in Mysore State was criticised in several 
of its issues. 

The Pratap under the editorship of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
or under his guidance even when he was in jail continued to 
meet the challenges from all sides. Its attitude of defiance remained 
unabated. It was heedless of consequences in championing 
the cause of the harassed persons even at the risk of fighting 
contempt cases; corresponding with or giving full publicity to 
arch-revolutionaries like Raja Mahendra Pratap in exile; pro¬ 
viding umbrella to young revolutionaries in India; pleading for 
their defence and arranging for relief to the families of political 
prisoners as well as to those of martyrs. In March 1928, Pandit 



Nehru sought help from Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi in the pre¬ 
paration of a concise statement dealing with political prisoners 
in India. He wanted to utilise that in getting some money for 
them from the United States of America. 

Knowing fully well that the rulers of the then Indian states 
enjoyed full protection from the Britishers in India, the Pratap 
exposed their misdeeds and exhorted the states’ people to organise 
agitation against them. All these were no doubt herculean 
attempts to meet the challenges of the times, and it is really a 
wonder that the paper survived and its editor continued to rise 
in the national stature day by day. His was a rare example of 
defiant journalism under the British rule. 


In the Political Arena 

IT WILL be no exaggeration to say that politics was ingrained 
in the blood of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. And having be¬ 
come editor of the Fratap , he embarked upon his political career. 
To begin with he had established the Weekly to exalt and revive 
the memories of the great hero of liberty, Maharana Pratap. But 
in contemporary India the first political leader to be venerated 
by him was Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, whose photograph 
always hung before his desk. The idol suited him well, as Tilak 
was both a political leader and journalist, and carried on his 
public life vigorously, sparing neither the authorities nor his 

After having come out of jail in 1914, Tilak decided to start 
agitation for Home Rule. Mrs. Annie Besant in an attempt to 
bring the two sections of the Indian National Congress together, 
suggested amendment of its Constitution. But Gopal Krishna 
Gokhale and Pherozeshah Mehta opposed the move, so till 1915 
reconciliation could not take place. However, when the Congress 
opened its door to the nationalists and claimed as one of its 
subjects “the attainment of self-Government within the British 
Empire by constitutional means”, Tilak welcomed the gesture. 
On 23 April 1916, he started his Home Rule League and attended 
the Congress session at Lucknow which saw the Congress united 
again and brought the Congress and the Muslim League together. 

In between, Mrs. Annie Besant had also published the mani¬ 
festo about her Home Rule League. In this she indicated that 
the object of the League was to begin at once “strong, steady 
and sustained agitation”, in the Press and on the platform. In 



her presidential speech at the U.P. Provincial Conference held 
at the beginning of April, she unfolded her programme. {New 
India, 2 April 1915). By 14 September, she abandoned the policy 
of ‘silence during the war’ and blew the bugle for a vigorous 
Home Rule agitation irrespective of Defence of India Rules. 
She exhorted the Indian leaders to hold meetings and explain 
to the masses the demand for self-government for India. She 
hoped that the Congress session at Lucknow would also for¬ 
mulate a scheme for self-government, based on the labours of 
the Provincial and District Congress Committees. 

With the two Home Rule Leagues in the field, some con¬ 
fusion arose. But both of them came to an agreement about the 
sphere of their respective organisations. Tilak’s League was to 
confine its work in the then Central Provinces (now Madhya 
Pradesh) and Bombay Presidency, and the rest of India was to 
be under Mrs. Besant’s League. During 1916 and 1917 
Mrs. Annie Besant’s two papers, viz. New India and the Com¬ 
monweal raged the battle of Home Rule in India. Her Home 
Rule League became a symbol of national opposition. It influen¬ 
ced the Nehrus at Allahabad and it fascinated Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi at Kanpur. 

Home Rule League at Kanpur 

According to an editorial in the Pratap dated 24 September 
1917, when Home Rule League was started at Madras, the same 
day its branch was established at Kanpur. In the beginning it 
had only 11 members. Thereafter the branch used to hold its 
meetings every Tuesday and discussed important issues. Swarajya 
literature published by the Pratap and other sources used to 
be discussed at its meetings. Number of the members increased 
day by day. 

On 1 July 1917, a general meeting was organised at Kanpur 
to protest against the internment of Mrs. Annie Besant and 
subsequently swarajya day was celebrated in the city. New 



accommodation was obtained by the League branch at A.B. 
Road and a reading room opened in that. Work began to be 
carried on smoothly and its delegates attended the U.P. Pro¬ 
vincial Conference at Jhansi, as well as the Lucknow session 
of the Congress. Office-bearers for the next year were also elected. 
Eratoon became its President, and Paranjpe the Secretary. Eleven 
members were elected for the Executive, of which Dr. Murari 
Lai became the President. Paranjpe was the headmaster of a 
Theosophical High School at Kanpur. Although he was an 
elderly fellow, young Ganesh Shankar, Shiva Narain and 
Dashrath bore the brunt of the work being done at Kanpur. 
They used to read New India and India a Nation very enthu¬ 
siastically. A number of meetings were organised at Kanpur and 
the Swarajya day was again celebrated on 1,6 September 191,7. 
Number of members of the League branch at Kanpur swelled 
to 300 and apart from editorial work at the Pratap office, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi always took active interest in its activities. 
This was the beginning of his political career. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, as young and enthusiastic editor 
of the Pratap had been publishing editorials, (11 October-20 
December 1915) highlighting the importance of self-rule pro¬ 
pagated by Mrs. Annie Besant. According to the editor, the 
Irish people had used the words Home Rule for Swarajya and 
so Indians should not be afraid of making open demand for that. 
It asserted, when thousands of Indians overseas were groaning 
under the tyranny of Colonial Rule in Fiji, Jamaica, South Africa 

and other colonies, that Indians should not be afraid of raising 


a voice for Home Rule or Swarajya. 

However, membership of the Home Rule League branch 
at Kanpur did not deter Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi from toeing 
independent line about controversies between Mrs. Besant 
and Mahatma Gandhi. When she interrupted the speech of 
Mahatma Gandhi at the Banaras Hindu University on 6 February 
1916, the editor of the Pratap did not approve of her action. 
According to an editorial dated 28 February 1916, Mahatma 



Gandhi was right in asserting that the country should be fully 
geared up before a strong demand for Swarajya was made. 
However, it explained away Mrs. Besant’s point of view that 
such a thing should not have been uttered before an audience 
of students, and called upon people to treat that only as an error. 
In the same manner the Pratap steered clear of the controversy 
between the extremists led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the 
Bombay moderates, who were reluctant to any radical change 
in the Congress Constitution. 

Lucknow Session of the Congress 

In 1916, the Indian National Congress held its plenary session 
at Lucknow. Pandit Bishan Narayan Dar, became the President¬ 
elect. The Pratap through its editorial dated 3 July 1916 eulo¬ 
gised the services of B.N. Dar. It also highlighted the qualities 
of Pandit Gokarannath Misra, who was elected as Chairman, 
Reception Committee. When the then Lieutenant-Governor, 
James Mestor warned him of the law and order situation, the 
editor of the Pratap termed that as unjust and unnecessary. 
The rejoinder sent by the Chairman, Reception Committee, was 
published in the paper and termed as appropriate and dignified. 

Besides applauding the achievements of the Lucknow session, 
the Pratap carried a full coverage of Mahatma Gandhi’s speech 
at the All-India Common Script and Common Language Con¬ 
ference, on 29 December 1916, which was organised by Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi himself. It was at Lucknow that Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi came under the spell of Mahatma Gandhi 
and on the other hand, Bal Krishna Sharma ‘Navin’ came 
under his. As a result of Mahatma Gandhi’s exhortation. 
Dr. Murari Lai began to take part in active politics at Kanpur 
and joined hands with Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. Through 
the Pratap, both started spreading the message of freedom 
struggle throughout the province, their main thrust at that 
time being the propagation of swadeshi, spread of khadi, provision 



of national education and strengthening of the Congress. 
(Dr. Jawaharlal Rohatgi, Abhinandan Granth p.p. 224-25). 

Dr. Murari Lai joined hands with Dr. Jawaharlal Rohatgi 
whose residence at Kanpur became a meeting place for political 
workers. Leaders coming from outside invariably stayed with 
him. Immediately after the Lucknow session it was decided to 
bring Mahatma Gandhi to Kanpur but for his stay no place 
could be found except the Pratap office. So H.S.L. Polak and 
Mahatma Gandhi came and stayed there. It was there that the 
delegates from Bihar under the leadership of Braja Kishore 
Prasad met him again and got a promise of his visit to 
Champaran. Mahatma Gandhi did not join any procession or 
addressed a meeting at Kanpur, he only took there a most vital 
decision of his life. The Champaran affairs secured a priority, 
over the problem of Indians in South Africa and thereafter he 
became involved more and more in Indian politics. For the 
Pratap it was a signal honour and it added to the editor’s prestige. 
Thereafter Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi became a kingpin of 
Kanpur politics. 

Political Identity 

During 1918-20 Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi made his mark in 
local and provincial politics. He was all respect for Mrs. Annie 
Besant and for her Home Rule League, but after the Lucknow 
session he became Mahatma Gandhi’s follower and developed 
his identity as a Congressite and freedom-fighter. 

The Pratap had already been championing the cause of the 
Champaran kisans, working on indigo plantations. When 
Mahatma Gandhi was served with internment orders in 
Champaran and he disobeyed them, the Pratap gave the events 
full publicity in June 1917. Its editorial on the role of Gandhiji 
and the Champaran Enquiry Committee as well as the Euro¬ 
peans Associations, came in for adverse comments. The coverage 
by Anglo-Indian papers, viz. The Pioneer (Allahabad), Madras 
Mail and the Statesman, was termed as biased, 



Ever since its start the Pratap had been exposing the indigni¬ 
ties suffered by the Indian coolie emigrants to British Colonies. 
Indentured Labour was the burning question and Mahatma 
Gandhi’s struggle for Indians in South Africa had attracted 
attention all over the world. Added to this was the German 
propaganda against the British Empire and encouragement to 
seditionists against them. These naturally attracted the youth 
and the youthful editor gave prominence to the problem. Lala 
Lajpat Rai’s Young India awd Reflections on the Political Situa¬ 
tion in India, were popularly read in India as well as abroad. 

As Kanpur was fast developing as an industrial town, the 
problem of mill-workers came to the forefront. When the 
labourers went on strike at Kanpur, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
became their staunch supporter. He opposed the tyranny of 
millowners and apathy of the local authorities. As the Amritsar 
and Calcutta sessions of the Indian National Congress brought 
Mahatma Gandhi more and more to the forefront, the cause of 
Champaran kisans, the Kanpur millworkers’ demands and the 
plight of the indentured labour evoked sympathy and support 
from the Congress as well. Mahatma Gandhi after his very first 
meeting with Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, became his adviser. 
On 2 July 1917, while at Motihari he wrote to Maganlal Gandhi 
that he had heard at Prayag (Allahabad) that the best paper was 
supposed to be the Pratap . He also felt that its editor was “a 
man of utter self-sacrifice”. 

District Conference at Kanpur 

At a meeting of the Kanpur City Congress Committee held 
on 9 January 1921., it was resolved to raise a city volunteer corps, 
which might come handy in times of dire need and also help in 
organising tehsil level conferences as well as one at the district. 
A decision to hold a District Conference from 22 to 29 February 
at Khurd Mahal Park, was also taken. Delegates were to be 
chosen from villages and wards in the city. Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was appointed Convener of the organising committee. 



Besides the above, a National Committee of Education and a 
Panchayat Committee were also formed. Dr. MurariLal, Maulana 
Hasrat Mohani, Maulana Azad Subhani, Pt. Ram Prasad and 
others were to be members of the former Committee. It was 
resolved to start a National School and a College at Kanpur. 
The proceedings were published in the 17 January issue of the 
Pmtap under the signatures of Narayan Prasad Arora and Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi. 

As a result of the efforts of the Convener, the District Con¬ 
ference was very well attended. Participants among others included 
Pandit Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru and Purshottam Das 
Tandon. According to the memoirs of Narain Prasad Arora, 
although he did practically nothing to organize the District 
Conference, yet Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi always included his 
name in the proceedings. 

Kisan Sabhas 

Between the Bezwada and Nagpur sessions of the Congress, 
Mahatma Gandhi and Ali brothers toured the country and 
infused a new spirit in the Indians. The provincial Congress 
leaders were busy in explaining the resolutions passed at Nagpur. 
Bihar, Orissa and United Provinces devoted greater attention to 
the fostering of the kisan sabhas or peasants associations. Pandit 
Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru and others plunged into the 
movement and exhorted the kisans to fight for their rights. Serious 
agrarian disturbances took place in the Rae Bareli, Fyzabad, 
Partapgarh and Sultanpur districts. 

Due to the arrest of kisan sabha leaders, the movement spread 
like wildfire in the autum of 1920. Everywhere the oppressed 
peasantry showed signs of a mass uprising, challenging the 
oppressive police and even resisting the arrest of leaders. Firing, 
lathi-charge and arrests became a common feature. The call to 



boycott the visit of Prince of Wales in 1921 added fuel to fire and 
the jails were filled with thousands of volunteers in U.P. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi became the chief spokesman of the 
movement and got involved in the Rae Bareli contempt case. 
He also fell a victim to official machinations and was put behind 
the bars in October 1921. On 14 November 1921, the Chief 
Secretary to the U.P. Government informed the Government of 
India that action had been taken against the editor of the Pratap 
of Kanpur, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi and its publisher and 
printer, Shiva Narain Misra under Section 108, Criminal Pro¬ 
cedure Code. Mention was also made of the practical difficulties 
experienced in the Pratap contempt case due to the private cases of 
defamation by officials and publications of reckless statements. 
However Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi thus sulfered his first jail 
term in 1921. 

Jail Life 

Having received a diary on 31 January 1922, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi started recording day to day events in the district jail 
of Lucknow. Prior to that records of his interviews with Krishna 
Dutt Paliwal and others have been published in the columns of 
Pratap. After his release on 22 May, he wrote in twelve serials, 
Glimpses of Jail Life, and they afford a revealing picture of his 
first jail life. 

In his very first interview with Krishna Dutt Paliwal on 
30 October 1921, he felt sore about the government’s decision to 
prosecute him under Section 108 only and not under Sections 
124A and 153A. He asserted that if the Government had done 
the latter, his lawyer would have got the government’s order 
regarding security and personal bonds quashed. According to 
him the government chose the easier but surer path to keep him 
in custody. 

In addition to his own prosecution Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
questioned the veracity of the then Governor, Harcourt Butler’s 



tall claim of showing favour to political prisoners. It was in jail 
that he realised how partial treatment was accorded to political 
prisoners. He had heard that favoured political prisoners were 
kept in the district jail while others in the central jail. Along with 
him were also kept the accused in the Mainpuri Conspiracy Case, 
viz. Shiv Charan Lai and Ramnath Gurtu of Lucknow. All of 
them got diet unfit for human consumption. They had also to 
wear jail uniform and had a wooden plate hung around their 
neck, which was highly discriminatory and deserved 

When requested to give a message to his colleagues, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi pleaded that there was no necessity of any 
message: everybody should continue to do his or her work. He 
wanted everybody to be cheerful and not to worry about him. 
Although his health deteriorated, yet after fifteen months of jail 
life he remained undaunted and defiant. His exemplary courage 
and spirit of challenge to the repressive policy of the then govern¬ 
ment was hailed by his contemporary papers like Sansar 
(Benares); Ahhyudaya (Allahabad), Calcutta Samachar, Shakti 
and Yugantar. 

Family Worries 

As the plague epidemic had broken out in the city, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi became worried about his family members 
who could not come to see him on 5 February 1922. It was only 
on receipt of a letter from his wife, Prakash Devi, on 7 February 
that he felt relieved of the anxiety. However, on 12 February 
when his wife, children, brother, mother and father came to see 
him he felt happy. His daughter Bimla and his mother had shed 
weight and his wife’s condition could be imagined rather than 
expressed. According to entries in the jail diary his wife remained 
very much worried due to the condition of Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi’s father who had come to Kanpur after retirement. The 



aged father was so worried that he wanted Prakash Devi to 
write to her husband to deposit the security and get released. 
But there was absolutely no possibility of such a move. 

From 20 to 27 March, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had a series 
of ailments in the jail. He was troubled by cold and headache, 
followed by bad stomach. First he tried homeopathic and then 
took allopathic medicines. During this period Dr. Jawaharlal 
Rohatgi, who was also in jail, extracted one of his teeth and 
relieved him of one of the ailments. As influenza broke out in the 
jail, the environment all around caused additional worry to him 
and he felt uneasy. Despite his ailments, the necessary food items 
and non-contaminated drinking water were not available in the 
jail. Lighting arrangements were grossly inadequate. Life in jail 
became irksome. 

Despite personal ailments and family worries, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi tried to enjoy the company of jail-mates, viz. Jawaharlal 
Nehru, Salamatullah, Shaukat Ali, Balmukund Bajpai, Mohanlal 
Saksena, Dr. Shiva Raj Narain, Purshottam Das Tandon, 
Krishna Kant Malaviya, Gobind Malaviya, Kapildev Malaviya 
and Chaudhari Khaliquzzaman. On 3 March he witnessed in the 
jail, a unique game of gulli danda in which as many as twentytwo 
persons participated. Among the players could be reckoned 
Pandit Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal and Khaliquzzaman. While 
recording the event in the jail diary, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
appreciated the sporting spirit with which the political prisoners 
took the jail life and forgot the hardships as well as physical 

Being himself a strictly religious-minded person, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi fasted on Ekadashi day and other such festi¬ 
vals. But when he subsisted only on fruit, he invited trouble. 
The festival of Holi was celebrated inside the jail with great 
enthusiasm. Hindus and Musalmans participated in it open- 
heartedly. The festivities ended with refreshments in the afternoon. 
The jail diary contains many interesting episodes of occasional 



feasts and preparation of special dishes, e.g., on Basant Panchami 
day. In this way all the political prisoners shared the trials and 
tribulations of jail life and tried to forget their personal ailments 
and worries. 

Insanitation in jail was very common. Flies and mosquitos 
were in abundance. Medical facilities for prisoners were grossly 
inadequate. Quite naturally in such an environment Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi’s health was badly affected. It was only by 
chance that Dr. Murari Lai and Dr. Jawaharlal Rohatgi were 
also among the political prisoners and they gave treatment to 
their ailing colleagues. 

In his serials, Glimpses of Jail Life, published in the Pratap, 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi refuted the popular belief that the life 
behind the bars was not troublesome; and political prisoners 
enjoyed all sorts of amenities. 

Release and After 

Immediately after his release on 22 May 1922, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi started his political vendetta against the Britishers. 
In June 1,922 when the All-India Congress Committee met at 
Lucknow, a Civil Disobedience Enquiry Committee was appoint¬ 
ed by the acting President, Hakim Ajmal Khan with himself as 
Chairman and Pandit Motilal Nehru and others as its members. 
As a result of its findings, it was reported that the country was 
not prepared to embark upon general mass civil disobedience. 
However, limited civil disobedience could be launched. Entry 
into legislative councils was favoured. It was also recommended 
that non-cooperators might seek election to municipalities, 
district and local boards, with a view to facilitate the implementa¬ 
tion of constructive programmes. Boycott of educational insti¬ 
tutions and the law courts was also favoured. Labour was to be 
vigorously organised. Boycott of British goods, including foreign 
cloth was to continue. National schools were to be opened and 
run with public finances. 



In July 1922 when the Satyagraha Committee visited Kanpur, 
a public meeting was held at the parade ground. Pandit Motilal 
Nehru delivered the stirring address. He was followed by Hakim 
Ajmal Khan and Dr. M.A. Ansari. The service rendered by the 
Congress volunteers at Railway Station, Kanpur and the parade 
ground was commended. In October 1922 the Kanpur Congress 
Committee remained active under its Acting President, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi. Dr. Murari Lai, the President, was in jail. 
Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday was celebrated on 2 October with 
great enthusiasm. 

V/ith the release of C.R. Das from jail in August 1922, the 
question of the Council entry came to the forefront. The All- 
India Congress Committee, which met at Calcutta, decided to 
contest the elections, but the Bengal P.C.C. opposed that. When 
the P.C.C. decided likewise in U.P., Pt. Motilal Nehru resigned 
from that. At Gaya Congress, C.R. Das was defeated, so he 
resigned and formed a new part;^ named “Congress-Khilafat- 
Swaraj” party. As they were to work within the Conress, a truce 
was arrived at Allahabad towards the end of February 1923; 
Council propaganda for and against was suspended till 30 April. 
Pandit Motilal Nehru in an interview to the Associated Press at 
Kanpur expressed the hope that the compromise arrived at might 
work even after 30 April. 

National Week 

It was decided to observe the week ending 18 March 
1923 as National Week. During this period concentrated efforts 
were to be made for the collection of money for the Tilak Swaraj 
Fund, enrolment of volunteers and the propagation of khadi. 
The 18 March itself, the anniversary day of Gandhi’s incarcera¬ 
tion, was to be observed as a day of peaceful hartal throughout 
the country. It was on this day that the great trial of Mahatma 
Gandhi began at Ahmedabad and he was sentenced to six years’ 
imprisonment as his three articles published in Young India 



were interpreted as causing disaffection. He pleaded guilty. 
Ganesli Shankar Vidyarthi was very much impressed with his 
example and decided to make National Week a great success at 
Kanpur and Fatehpur. 

Consequently the National Week was celebrated from 13 
to 18 March 1923. Hartal was observed on the last date. Accord¬ 
ing to reports published, 3,900 volunteers were enlisted and a 
sum of rupees three lakhs and sixty-two thousand was collected. 
Prior to that, hectic preparations were made to enlist volunteers 
and political conferences were arranged. At Fatehpur, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi was requested to preside. During his stirring 
addresses, he passionately appealed to people to celebrate the 
National Week. He expressed in unequivocal terms that he was 
opposed to all unhealthy dominations, whether of the ruling 
bureaucracy, or of the zamindar, or of wealthy men, or of the 
higher castes, which suppressed the legitimate aspirations of 
the people and helped in keeping them in a state of bondage. 

Imprisoned Again 

The presidential address delivered by Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi at the Fatehpur District Political Conference, was 
regarded as seditious and tantamount to inciting violence. He 
was charged with having brought into hatred or contempt and 
excited disaffection towards Government and he was prosecuted 
under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. The case was 
listed for hearing on 14 March but it could be taken up by the 
District Magistrate, Fatehpur, on 15 March. Till then he was 
an under-trial, but was denied the facility of cooked food from 
outside and interview with friends. His beddings, clothes, charkha 
and books, which were in police custody, were not delivered to 
him. Even his cooking arrangements were not satisfactory though 
his health was very much indifferent. 

On receiving the news of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi’s arrest 
at Fatehpur, most of the bazaars at Kanpur were closed and a 



resolution was passed congratulating him on his arrest. Pandit 
Jawaharlal Nehru on a visit to Kanpur, delivered a stirring 
address at a mass meeting at Khurd Mahal and exhorted the 
audience to go with celebrations of the national week with 
vigour. Referring to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, he said, “You 
have closed your markets on account of the jewel of your cityj' 

But in view of the seriousness of the charge, the family 
members were so much worried that they advised Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi to tender an apology, but the latter declined 
to do so. On the other hand he cross-examined the C.I.D. 
reporter and in his written statement questioned the veracity 
of the report filed in the Court. The reporter admitted that he 
could not understand Sanskrit words and had not learnt Hindi. 
He said that he had omitted those Sanskrit words with dot marks 
in his report. He did not get the speech corrected by the speaker 
or the audience for want of time. 

The magistrate thereafter himself cross-examined the accu¬ 
sed, who asserted that the so-called copy of his speech, was not 
correct. The major portion of that was wrongly reported and the 
general impression was wrong. The magistrate in order to verify, 
got some of the passages, alleged to be incorrectly reported, 
written out by the accused. He adjourned the case for 20 March 
when the accused was asked to file his written statement. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi in his written statement said that 
the version of his speech as reported by the C.I.D. reporter was 
incomplete, inaccurate and at places absolutely distorted. It 
was in truth a mass of disjoint sentences, which did not always 
fit in with one another. The general impression created by that 
version was misleading. He asserted that he repudiated the 
charge that he incited the people to violence. He said that nothing 
could have been farther from his mind than a desire to incite 
people to violence. He believed that nothing could be more idiotic 
and suicidal from the national point of view. His conscience was 
clear that he had no intention of inciting his audience to violence. 


But if he actually had left that impression on the mind of even a 
single individual, who heard him, he would be sincerely sorry. 
He further said that he would not hesitate for a moment to 
admit his mistake if he honestly felt that he had committed one. 
He would willingly retrace and make amends for any remarks 
which might have been construed, as incitement to violence, for 
that would be against the principle of the Indian National Con¬ 
gress of which he was an humble but staunch member. He un¬ 
doubtedly stood for political struggle and he did also believe in 
non-violence as a religious principle, in the same sense in which 
Tolstoy or Mahatma Gandhi did. 

According to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, violence in the 
sense of armed rebellion or of causing physical hurt, was not the 
method which he advocated as suitable to India’s political condi¬ 
tions. It would have been foolish and suicidal to even think of 
that in those conditions. He had said all that merely with a view 
to satisfy or dissatisfy any one. He expected that the whole 
political struggle was directed against no quarter from the 

The government pleader tried to establish the. prosecution 
case on the plea of an illiterate audience, the great agitation and 
the drift of the speech. He extolled in high terms the oratorial 
power of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. According to him, exciting 
feelings of enmity to Government was sufficient to make him 
liable for punishment under that section. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi said in his rejoinder that the 
government pleader had given a most ridiculous interpretation of 
his speech and its spirit. His written statement was more than 
sufficient to save him Irom the trouble of establishing his case. 
But the Court was unmoved and was bent upon punishing him. 

The District Magistrate sentenced him on the charge of 
sedition to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of rupees one 
hundred, in default three months’ further imprisonment. He was, 
however, classed as an ordinary non-political prisoner. Ha was 



carried to jail amidst shouts of “Jai”. His last message to the 
people was: 

“Let us not be hypocrites.” 

On the day of judgment, only 15 persons were allowed to be 
present. This time he was taken to Allahabad and confined in the 
Naini Central Jail. The roof of barracks, where he was lodged, 
leaked during the rainy season. Scorpions and centipede fell on 
the prisoner. However, he braved all the troubles. On the advice 
of a warder, he started reciting the Ramayana to ward off evils. 
Swami Bhawani Dayal Sanyasi in his article entitled Ganesh-puja 
published in the Pratap, had given a most touching picture of the 
penance that Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had to brave in such a 
jail, in spite of his frail body. It is said during his stay there he 
recited the Ramayana eight times and before his release on 29 
January 1924 he distributed copies of the Ramayana to the 
warders. Immediately after reaching Kanpur, he went to Jajmau 
on 10 February and recited the Ramayana for the ninth time. 
This incident increased faith in God tenfold, and he started his 
political activities with renewed vigour. 

Bolshevik Conspiracy 

On 23 May, 1924, the Secretary of State for India was informed 
by the then Viceroy that in the Kanpur Bolshevik Conspiracy 
Case, the Sessions Judge, had sentenced Sripad Amrit Dange, 
Shaukat Usmani, Muzaffar Ahmad and Nalini Bhushan Gupta 
to four years’ rigorous imprisonment. Prosecution against Ghulam 
Hussain had been withdrawn. Owing to ill-health of Singaravellu 
Chettiar, proceedings against him were suspended. This case had 
assumed international importance due to political implications. 

"By July 1924, the convicted had filed an appeal which could 
only come up for hearing in October before a full bench. Funds 
for defence were raised in India as well as in U.K. by George 
Lansbury and other M.Ps. The Foreign Secretary of England 



had drawn the attention of his Russian counterpart to financial 
assistance to the Bolsheviks in India by the Soviet Government. 
But this fact could not be proved in the Court. Nor could it be 
established that the conspirators were intending to use violent 
means. They were certainly preaching Bolshevism, which was 
tantamount to waging war against His Majesty the King of 
England. Merely shouting of “Down with British imperialism” 
was regarded as an olfence under Sec. 121 A. Pandit Kapil Dev 
Malaviya and Dr. Manilal arranged defence for the accused. 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi through the Pratap and its sister 
publication Prabha (June 1924) gave due publicity to the case. 

The U.P. Government was scanning all publications regarding 
Bolshevism at Kanpur. On 4 October 1924, a leaflet in Hindi 
entitled “Bharat Samyavadi Dal” (The Indian Communist Party), 
published by Satya Bhushan Socialist Bo ok-shop, Kanpur and 
printed by the Shakti Press, Kanpur was forfeited under Section 
124A, Indian Penal Code. The Pratap Pustakalaya, Kanpur 
continued sale of such publications as “Doctrines of Tolstoy” and 
“Jail Life” (Karavas ki Kahani) of freedom fighters and 

In January 1925, another pamphlet entitled “Appeal to my 
Countrymen” issued under the name of Sachindra Nath Sanyal 
was forfeited under Sec. 124-A, Indian Penal Code. In the same 
month a Hindi magazine entitled Volunteer edited and published 
by Todar Singh Tomar, Meston Road, Kanpur and printed by the 
Saraswati Press, Kanpur was forfeited and made punishable. 
However, all such forfeitures failed to deter Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi from extending succour to revolutionaries and also 
publishing Bolshevik literature from the Pratap Press. 

With Congress 

With the release of Mahatma Gandhi in February 1924, fresh 
attempts were made to bridge the gulf between the Swarajists and 
the others in the Indian National Congress. Even C.R. Das and 



Motilal Nehru stated that there was nothing inconsistent between 
non-co-operation and Council entry. They assured Mahatma 
Gandhi that the moment they found that it was ‘impossible to 
meet the selfish obstinacy of the bureaucracy without civil dis¬ 
obedience’ ; they would resign from the Councils. 

At the Belgaum session of the Indian National Congress, 
Mahatma Gandhi as president, appealed to all the political parties 
to join the Congress. He was acting as a reconciler and at one 
time was even prepared to olfer leadership of the Congress to 
Motilal Nehru leader of the Swaraj Party in the Assembly. His 
franchise resolution was not finding favour and was reversed at 
the Patna session of the All-India Congress Committee. However, 
hectic activity continued preceding the next session at Kanpur 
in December 1925. The Kanpur Congress Committee had invited 
the U.P.C.C. to hold the plenary session at Kanpur, and the 
invitation was accepted at the Belgaum session. Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was elected Secretary of the Reception Committee. 
Dr. Murari Lai consented to act as Chairman. Thus both these 
leaders were saddled with the responsibility to host the plenary 
session at a critical time in the history of the Congress. In his 
editorial of the Pratap dated 14 December 1924, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi bemaoned that the session was being held with gloomy 

The Reception Committee had to face unforeseen difficulties 
in getting a site for the plenary session. The very first site selected 
at Sisawan landed it into trouble. In view of the proximity to a 
dumping ground of city’s waste and the difficulty in obtaining a 
good supply of water, the site was abandoned. 

Ultimately the choice fell on Tilaknagar where the session 
was ultimately held after paying heavy compensation to the 
tenants. Here too the European members of the Trust objected to 
the holding of the plenary session on the site. Dr. Tej Bahadur 
Sapru and Rai Bahadur Anand Swarup helped the committee to 
secure the site and thus hold the session there. The Chairman, 



Reception Committee had to mention in his address (read in 
Hindi) that the site could be obtained after a good deal of higgling. 
The Secretary, Reception Committee, also experienced greatest 
difficulty in recruiting volunteers for the session. Most of his 
devoted workers being young revolutionaries, were arrested either 
in the Kanpur Bolshevik conspiracy case or the Kakori train 
dacoity case. Despite all such difficulties Dr. Jawahar Lai Rohatgi 
agreed to be in charge of the Volunteer Corps and Gangadhar 
Ganesh Jog succeeded in enlisting a strong contingent of twelve 
hundred volunteers. In spite of the bitter cold, they performed 
their duties sincerely and with rare devotion. The arrangements 
they made earned praise not only from Mahatma Gandhi but also 
from Srimati Sarojini Naidu, Jawaharlal Nehru and others. 

Arrangements had also been made near the Congress pandal 
for other conferences, numbering thirty. Maulana Shaukat Ali 
was in dire need for additional tents for the Khilafat Conference, 
being held at the same time and at the same place. The volunteers 
were not ready to lend the tents, but Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, 
much against their wishes agreed to oblige Shaukat Ali who took 
possession of as many as one hundred and fifty such tents. But 
he could hardly utilise ten or twelve of them. In this way Maulana 
was not given an opportunity to put blame on Congressmen, 
which upheld their higher stature. To make the arrangements a 
success, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi harnessed all available 
woikers. Gulab Chand Harda was one of them. Sanitary arrange¬ 
ments were looked after by the “Sanitation and Bhangi Depart¬ 
ment” under the oveiall supervision of Dr. Murari Lai. He was 
no doubt helped in the onerous task by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. 
The arrangements made were acclaimed as excellent. 

In this most difficult task Rafi Ahmed Kidwai another General 
Secretary of the Reception Committee always stood by Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi. 

The Swadeshi Exhibition was quite good and very popular. 
On several days, the visitors numbered twelve thousand or more. 



The exhibition was declared open by Mahatma Gandhi on 24 
December. He agreed to do so on the tacit assurance from 
Jawaharlal Nehru that there would be nothing foreign displayed 
there. Gandhiji expressed satisfaction on the quality of charkhas 
and increase in their number, and asked the aspirants to vow to 
use khadi. 

Mahatma Gandhi’s expectations regarding the Kanpur session 
were more than fulfilled. He wrote in the Navajivan dated 3 
January 1926, “The prophets of doom had been active about the 
Kanpur Congress. If Sarojini Naidu became the President, they 
prophesied, she would have a tough time with the audience, there 
would be hardly any visitors at this session, few delegates would 
attend, etc. But as things turned out, it cannot be said that the last 
Congress session was inferior to any. In some respects, it was 
even better than usual.” There were 1200 volunteers to work 
including 120 ladies. A huge pandal had been erected to accommo¬ 
date 15,000 people. There were 2,688 delegates and Reception 
Committee members numbered 1,287. The leaders were housed in 
twenty nearby bungalows in Tilaknagar. Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was helped by Hindustani Sewa Dal acting under the 
direction of its chief organiser, Dr. Hardikar. 

Besides all this, arrangements were also made for holding the 
Khilafat Conference, the Communists Meet, the National 
Language Conference, the Sanatan Dharma Sabha, the Arya 
Samaj Sammelan, the All India Suddhi Sabha, the Labour Party 
Meet, the Sikh Dharmik Diwan, the Sweeper Sabha, the Vaish, 
Tamoli and Rajput Sabhas. The All-India Teachers’ Conference, 
the Kalwars’ Conference and the All-India Volunteers’ Con¬ 
ference also met there. It is a wonder how such heterogeneous 
organisations could meet successfully at one place. 

Mahatma Gandhi had already written in Young India dated 
24 December 1925 that the plenary session of the Congress at 



Kanpur was “to be a landmark in its history”. An Indian 
woman was for the first time to enjoy the highest honour of 
being its president. She had already the reputation of a great 


Mahatma Gandhi, however, admitted that Sarojini Naidu 
would face difficult problems at the plenary session. According to 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi the following topics were to attract the 
foremost attention of the session: (i) Adherence to the spirit of 
mutual cooperation; (ii) Unity between the various dissident 
groups; (iii) Propaganda in foreign countries regarding political 
ideals and programmes; (iv) Propagation of the utility of charkha 
and use of khadi; (y) Breaking the torpor and lethargy within the 
organization. He fondly hoped that the session would mobilise the 
country’s youth and give them a direction. In his view each 
province needed at least five to six hundred young workers who 
might do whole-time work in the rural areas and dedicate them¬ 
selves to the cause of freedom. He also hoped that the year 1926 
would be a year of political dynamism and progress, and would 
kindle the dying embers of the fiery urge for freedom and 

On 14 December 1925, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi through the 
columns of Prdtap addressed the delegates, under the heading 
“In the Service of the Delegates”. Both internal and external 
problems were crying for a solution. The communal situation in 
the country was disturbing. In U.P., Bijnor had two free fights 
between the two communities. In Mainpuri theDistrict Magistrate 
had to take action under Sections 107 and 104 of the Criminal 
Procedure Code. In Kanpur and Allahabad, the carrying of sticks 
had to be forbidden. The atmosphere in short was tense, dark 
and bitter with unreasoning communal jealousy, suspicion, fear, 
distrust and hatred. 



The Congress Franchise 

The franchise resolution passed earlier recommending mem¬ 
bership fee of four annas per annum or 2,000 yards of self-spun 
yarn had evoked controversies. Due to opposition to this 
resolution, Mahatma Gandhi had announced his decision to 
spend the year quietly at his ashram at Ahmedabad. Although he 
had also decided to confine his activities to the organisation of the 
All-India Spinners’ Association, yet he agreed to attend the 
Kanpur session. 

Ever since the Belgaum session, the franchise resolution had 
been objected to. The Kesari and the Lokamanya both opposed it. 
They openly criticised it as an infliction which had to be borne as 
the price of unity between the two wings of the Congress. The 
Swarajists were vociferous in their opposition. And at the Kanpur 
session, Motilal Nehru moved that the Congress should approve 
and confirm part A of Resolution of the All-India Congress 
Committee passed at Patna on 22 September 1925. The Article 
VII of the Congress Constitution was repealed and replaced by a 
new one, viz., (i) Every person not disqualified under Article IV 
and paying a subscription of four annas per year in advance, or 
2,000 yards of evenly spun yarn of his or her own spinning, was 
to be entitled to become a member of any primary organization 
controlled by a provincial Congress committee, provided that no 
person was to be a member of two parallel Congress organiza¬ 
tions at one and the same time. The year of the membership was 
to be reckoned from 1 January to 31 December. 

Part B laid down that according to the agreement entered into 
between Mahatma Gandhi on the one hand and C.R. Das and 
Motilal Nehru on the other, the restriction on the members of the 
legislatures would not continue and the Congress was henceforth 
to be a predominantly political body. The work was to be carried 
on in accordance with the policy and programme laid down by the 
Swaraj Party, subject to such modification by the Congress as 
might be found necessary from time to time. 



Achievements of the Session 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi in his editorial dated 4 January 
1926, himself felt satisfied with the outcome of the plenary 
session at Kanpur, which had met in an atmosphere of gloom and 
uncertainty. The programmes adopted for the ensuing year had 
paved the way foi unified action by different sects, groups and 
communities. The franchise resolution passed at the Belgaum 
session was suitably amended, and the Congress transformed into 
a predominantly political body, which it continued till the attain¬ 
ment of freedom in 1947. Prisoners’ relief was given utmost 
priority and a sub-committee formed to collect and distribute 
funds for the aid of the sufferers. 

PanditMotilal Nehru’s resolution had two distinct advantages. 
Firstly it favoured Council entry and also contesting the elections 
to the local boards. Secondly, he was for the furtherance of the 
constructive work in the country and whatever work had been 
done by the Swaraj Party was to be adopted by the Congress also. 
The resolution regarding the Constitution passed by the Legis¬ 
lative Assembly on 18 February 1925, at the instance of the 
Swarajists was to be got implemented. If there was no favourable 
response, from the Government, all the Swarajists and the 
Congressmen would quit their scats and devote themselves to 
constructive work like spinning, temperance, organising the 
labour and the like. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi felt satisfied and 
hoped that all the Congressmen would cooperate in that hercu¬ 
lean ask. 

The main burden of organising the plenary session fell on the 
Kanpur Congress leaders and they acquitted themselves credit¬ 
ably. Due to the local boards’ election in U.P. in December, it 
became difficult to mobilise workers from neighbouring districts 
of Kanpur. The financial burden also had to be borne by the 
Reception Committee. Some of the neighbouring towns rose to 
the occasion and helped to the utmost. Notwithstanding the 
slump in the business, the citizens of Kanpur responded to the 



call of the leaders, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Dr. Murari Lai 
and Dr. Jawahar Lai Rohatgi. In the words of Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, the fortieth session of the Congress was the most 
challenging one during the last forty years. 

The success of the Kanpur session was another feather in the 
cap of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. His influence was paramount 
at Kanpur and he was poised for the U.P. as well as national 
leadership. The elections to the U.P. Legislative Council in 1926 
gave him an opportunity to prove his worth. 


Social Worker 

GANESH SHANKAR Vidyarthi waxed eloquence for the 
down-trodden, the exploited and poverty-stricken labourers, mill- 
workers and the peasants. Ever since he entered politics and 
edited the Pratap, he championed the cause of the indentured 
labour—the Indians overseas who worked as coolies. They were 
no better than the helots of the British Empire. 

Nearer home he was anxious to see the working conditions of 
the mill-workers at Kanpur, ameliorated. Besides, he had the 
uplift of the kisans in his mind. He had already championed the 
cause of the Champaran indigo plantation workers and exposed 
the unscrupulous methods used by the foreign planters. He worked 
hard to study the problems facing the kisans in U.P* and developed 
a liking for the rural atmosphere. He was fed up with the dirty 
city environments and always loved to walk, or even traverse by 
ekka (horse carriage) to reach the countryside. Due to his pro¬ 
fessional involvement in Kanpur city, it was often difficult for 
him to get such opportunities; but he always yearned for them. 

Visits to Narwal 

In order to satisfy his urge for rural atmosphere, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi started visiting Narwal village, 40 kilometres 
from Kanpur and 10 kilometers from Sarsaul, the nearest railw'ay 
station. The atrocities committed by the landlords on the peasants 
attracted his attention and he was anxious to render service to 
them. For this purpose, his visits to Narwal became very frequent 
and he started organising peasants meetings. He started delivering 



inspiring speeches there and exhorted the downtrodden peasants 
to stand up and unite against the landlords. He became very 
popular in the countryside and a band of devoted workers began 
to rally around him at Narwal and its adjoining villages. His 
influence extended to the nearby district of Fatehpur also. 

Among his close associates was Shyam Lai Parshad. During 
World War I, he was a victim of severe beating by the police as he 
had dared oppose forced collection of War Fund. This news was 
flashed by the Pratap and after a week or so, when per chance he 
met Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, he was given a pat. Ever since 
that incident he had become an ardent admirer of the young 
editor. In 1918 when Home Rule League work was in progress in 
Kanpur, Shyam Lai Parshad helped him in organising a Home 
Rule meet at Narwal. Dr. Paranjpe, Dr. Murari Lai and Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi attended the big meet at Fatehpur. Thereafter 
Shyam Lai Parshad continued to render social service and was 
entrusted with this task in the district of Fatehpur. During 1919 
and 1920, he had the opportunity to be elected as a delegate to 
the Nagpur Congress. And when non-cooperation movement was 
launched, he became an ardent satyagrahi. 

After his release from prison in May 1922, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was accorded a mammoth reception at Narwal. 
According to Dev Vrat Sastri, an old woman was so much 
enthused that, instead of showering flower petals on him, she 
covered him with batashas (sugar-bubbles). Thereafter, it became 
a common ritual. After his release in 1924 after his second term 
of imprisonment, he was again given a right royal reception at 
Narwal. He had been prosecuted under Sec. 124-A for having 
delivered a stirring address at Fatehpur Political Conference in 
1923. Shyam Lai Parshad had established himself at Fatehpur. 

As Shyam Lai Parshad had participated in Bardoli satyagraha, 
he was regarded an excellent satyagrahi. He was also a poet and 
composed the famous flag song. He also composed a poem in 
honour of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, which was liked by evety- 



body. When in 1924, Shyam Lai Parshad was prosecuted, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi pleaded for him and arranged for his defence. 
Despite all that, he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment 
and a fine of rupees four hundred. 

Training Camps at Narwal 

Due to the persistent elforts of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, 
Narwal became a live centre for social, cultural and political 
activities. Having been elected Secretary of the Kanpur Congress 
Reception Committee, he felt the need of training volunteers for 
the session. Narwal suited him well as it was difficult to organise 
social service camps at Kanpur, in the congested city. It was this 
training that enabled him to raise a Volunteer Corps of about 
1,500 dedicated youths before the plenary session of the Congress. 
It was also through such camps that he could instill into them a 
feeling of common brotherhood and they could rise above caste 
prejudices and untouchability. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi himself 
set an example of equality among all classes, castes and com¬ 
munities. He often encouraged common kitchens and mass 
dinners or luncheons. He deprecated hiatus amongst high class 
and lower classes. He was ready to dine or lunch with everybody. 

As early as 1915, when he visited the village Chirgaon of the 
great poet, Maithili Saran Gupta, he surprised his household by 
offering to lunch in their kitchen with them. He always fought 
against such evil prejudices in the villages as encouraged separat¬ 
ism among members of different castes. He never hesitated to 
drink water or even take food from the hands of the low caste 
people or persons belonging to other faiths. Once a dancing girl 
was very much harassed by the local police. Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, after long correspondence, got her rescued and allowed 
her to stay at the Pratap office. The workers in the press did not 
like to drink water from her hands but Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
used to normally do so. If and when opportunity arose he preferred 
to have inter-community dinners. He often complained that the 



Hindu mill-workers, due to danger of being polluted, took only 
gram with them and thus ruined their health. On the other hand, 
Muslim workers brought normal meals including bread (chapatis) 
and vegetables and ate well. They thus maintained their health. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was often very much pained at the 
plight of women. He was against purdah system, he was for their 
education, and favoured widow re-marriage. When Newal 
Kishore Bhartiya decided to marry a child widow, he was all 
praise for him; and the occasion became a great social reform 
even in the history of Kanpur and the Marwari community. 
Several poems were written praising him. His barat was given a 
fitting farewell at Kanpur station, and on 29 November 1927, a 
grand reception was accorded. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi played 
a leading part in getting this unique remarriage solemnised. 

The devoted band of volunteers that he had been able to raise 
at Kanpur and Narwal came handy to him in his election cam¬ 
paign for the Council in 1.926. He was very keen in pushing on the 
constructive work of the Congress and was personally opposed to 
Council entry. But when he was pitted against a formidable rival, 
a representative of the rich class, he fought tenaciously and won. 
His success was due to his contacts with the common-folk, the 
mill-workers at Kanpur and the peasants in and around Narwal. 

He was an admirer of the spinning wheel. Like Mahatma 
Gandhi, he regarded the Charkha as the saviour of peasants. 
Ramnath Tandon, being himself a lover of khadi, and director 
of Khadi Bhandar at Kanpur, became Adviser-in-Chief to 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. 

Sewa Ashram at Narwal 

Subsequent to the plenary session of the Congress at Kanpur 
in 1925, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was very much anxious to 
establish an ashram on the model of Bardoli at Narwal. He had 
become very fond of the rural environment. Every weekend he 



used to go to Narwal by train and ekka, despite bad road. 
Ramnath Tandon often accompanied him from Kanpur. 

When the project of establishing a social service centre at 
Narwal had materialised, he sent for Luxmi Narain Agnihotri 
and Ambika Prasad Bajpai who were working outside Narwal at 
that time. As they belonged to Narwal, they were expected to be 
of great help. 

Consequently on 20 February 1929, Sewa Ashram was 
established at Narwal. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi became its 
President and Shyam Lai Gupta ‘Parshad’ acted as its Secretary. 
Besides the President and Secretary, a governing body of nine 
persons was formed, including Luxmi Narain Agnihotri, Shiva 
Narain Tandon, Babu Ramnath Tandon, Jayanti Prasad Agni¬ 
hotri and Thakur Vikram Singh. He was inspired in this work by 
Krishna Dutt Paliwal, Bal Krishna Sharma Navin, Newal Kishore 
Bhartiya and others. After its establishment a big celebration 
took place in March 1929. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarti was so much enamoured with the 
rural atmosphere at Narwal that at one time he wanted to publish 
the Pratap even from there. He was awfully anxious to promote 
the use of khadi and charkha. It was due to his attempts and 
week-end stays at Narwal that it became an important political 
centre. In March 1930 when preparations for Civil Disobedience 
were going on, high officials of the C.I.D. from Kanpur and 
Allahabad visited that place. In the establishment of Sewa 
Ashram, Narwal, he was very much helped by Newal Kishore 
Bhartiya who often extended financial help from time to time. 

In 1930 the ashram provided an excellent training ground for 
salt satyagrahis. The villagers were taught to prepare salt them¬ 
selves and thus break the salt laws. As a result of substained 
activities, the ashram provided as many as 400 volunteers who 
courted arrest, and thus defied salt laws. In March 1931 when 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was released from jail, he was accorded 
a grand reception. It was the most festive occasion. 



Under the auspices of the sewa ashram good many reading 
rooms and spinning centres were opened in the adjoining villages. 
The motto of the ashramites was self-reliance. The ashram got 
accretion of land when Bansidhar and Luxmi Narain Trivedi 
donated their garden. Even Visheshwar Kachi gave 15 biswas land 
in donation for the ashram. Thus the ashram got land for its 
growth and the running of constructive activities. 

After the martyrdom of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, the 
ashram was developed as a memorial to him. Sri Prakasa and 
Newal Kishore Bhartiya were head of the committee. In 1934, 
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone of the main 
building of the ashram at Narwal. A pucca well was got built due 
to the munificence of the mother of Newal Kishore Bhartiya. 

However, it was due to the contributions raised for the 
Kasturba Memorial Fund in 1942-43 and the persistence of Shiva 
Narain Tandon that a building worth rupees thirty thousand was 
erected for the ashram by 1946-47. The ashram soon after got an 
annexe, known as Gandhi-ghar, built out of the proceeds of 
Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Fund in 1959. 

In 1955-56 it was managed by a Society registered under the 
Society Registration Act. It developed into a live centre for 
Khadi-Udyog, and an Ambar Charkha Centre. Even the manu¬ 
facture of Ambar Charkhas was started at Narwal; as a result of 
these activities production of khadi increased. In its progress and 
development the late Har Shankar Vidyarthi, Bal Krishna Sharma 
Navin, Luxmi Agnihotri, Shyam Lai Gupta ‘Parshad’, Ramnath 
Tandon, Shiva Narain Tandon and Newal Kishore Bhartiya 
contributed their utmost. It was renamed as Ganesh Sewa Ahsram 
and thus became a living memorial to him. It continued to inspire 
the constructive workers and has been utilised as a training centre 
for the presidents of the village panchayats. It has remained as 
one of the two best memorials to him, the other being Hindustani 
Biradari. It has survived, although not in its original glory, even 
though the Pratap founded by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi ceased 
publication after 1964. 



Hindustani Biradari (Indian Brotherhood) 

This institution took birth in the backdrop of short-lived 
Hindu-Muslim unity in 1911 to fight British rulers’ apathy when 
plague raged Kanpur, and subsequently communal bickerings in 
1913 and 1927. 

In 1913 when the ’Comrade' of Mohamed Ali was publishing 
articles on Mischievous Incidents and The Atrocities and the 
British Government, the Muslims of India were aroused due to the 
demolition of a portion of the mosque at Kanpur. The Tauhid 
newspaper of Meerut published a booklet entitled Cawnpur Ki 
Khuni Dastan —Bloody Narrative of Kanpur. It was so widely 
published by the Comrade all over the country that the then 
Viceroy was alarmed. He rushed to Kanpur himself and, in order 
to pacify the agitators got as many as 100 persons released. 

It was only after the outbreak of World War I in Europe and 
the launching of the Khilafat agitation that Hindu-Muslims were 
united once again. Mahatma Gandhi forged the unity after 
Lucknow Congress in 1916. But after the non-cooperation and 
Khilafat movements, Hindu-Muslim riots again occured in 
various parts of the country. Kanpur witnessed worst riots in 1927, 
but due to police action, were soon put down. 


Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was an ardent votary of Hindu- 
Muslim unity and he showed his exemplary courage in forming 
their common trade unions in Kanpur. He took the lead in 
opposing British policies of divide and rule. He opposed imposi¬ 
tion of punitive tax. In order to check the widening schism 
between the two communities, he took the opportunity to convene 
a meeting of leading Hindus and Muslims in Pratap office to 
discuss the formation of an organisation which could foment 
common brotherhood. Its motto was that every citizen of India 
was first a Hindustani and religion was secondary to Indianhood. 

Among the votaries of common brotherhood in Kanpur, were 
Khwaja Abdul Salam, Bal Krishna Sharma ‘Navin’, Murtaza 



Husain Abadi, Newal Kishore Bharatiya and Muhammad 
Muzaffar Saheb. After prolonged discussions, it was resolved that 
an All-India Hindustani Biradari be estabhshed. Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was elected its founder president; and the first convenor 
was to be Newal Kishore Bharatiya The institution was soon 
provided with a constitution and the work was started in right 
earnest. It was the wish of the founder president that Hindus and 
Muslims should dine together. He even favoured inter-communal 
marriages, but the time was not opportune for that. The newly 
formed Hindustani Biradari propagated inter-community meets 
and conferences. All those, who contributed to the commemo¬ 
rative volumes of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi published by Hindi 
Bhawan Kalpi, and the Narmada, Gwalior, had with one voice 
praised his ideal of universal brotherhood. 

The laudable sacrifice made by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi to 
save the members of the minority community in 1931 Kanpur 
riots, cemented the bonds of the Hindustani Biradari. According 
to Newal Kishore Bharatiya, Ganga Sahai Chaube, Khwaja Abdul 
Salam, and Srinivas Gupta, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was the 
uncrowned king of Kanpur. His memory was cherished by one 
and all after 1931. In order to perpetuate his memory, the 
members of the Hindustani Biradari tried their utmost to propa¬ 
gate his ideals of inter-communal dinners and get-togethers. The 
institution provided a forum for the meeting of Hindu, Muslim 
and Christian workers. They advocated national integration in 
letter and spirit. 

In accordance with the ideals of the Hindustani Biradari, a 
renowned Christian Rev. Manohar Lai became its member and 
even rose to be its president. Mathura Prasad Bajpai worked as its 
secretary. After his death. Dr Surya Narain Saksena and Ahmed 
Husain, B A , became its secretaries. 

In 1960, Shri Paripurnanand Verma became its president and 
is still continuing as such. According to his report published in 
1976, during the preceding forty years, none of its members had 



been guilty of communalism. For the Hindustani Biradari all its 
members, irrespective of caste, community and religion are equal. 
During the British regime this innocent institution was looked 
upon with suspicion. It was regarded as national and so ‘seditious’. 

According to its chairman, even after independence, it had not 
got the importance it should have been given. It was only during 
the regime of Dr. Sampurananand, Chief Minister U.P., and 
Hafiz Ibrahim, that the institution got facelift. Consequently in 
good many districts, like Rampur, Varanasi, Etawah, the district 
magistrates got its branches opened. But frequent changes at the 
ministerial level resulted in setbacks to the expansion of the 
laudable memorial to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. 

The institution, according to chairman’s report dated 22 
October 1976, had done commendable work and still continues to 
do so. It had celebrated Kalidas Jayanti at Varanasi and Ghalib’s 
at Kanpur. It had organised seveial integration conferences from 
time to time. It also sponsored mushairas and kavi sammelans. It 
had been staging one-act plays on Chanakya, Aurangzeb, Eighteen 
fifty-seven, Shershah Suri and Nawab Wazid Ali Shah; and other 
such plays. The chairman himself had written most of the one-act 
plays. According to him even these days, the institution, 
Hindustani Biradari is busy propagating the ideals cherished by 
its founder-president, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. Its motto still 
remains that every Indian is first a citizen of India; and religion 
is secondary. Its members still vow to follow the path of peace 
and amity fearlessly. Sri Paripurnanad is still optimistic about 
the fulfilment of its mission and hopes for a bright future. 



IN VIEW of the compromise arrived at regarding Council entry, 
the plenary session of the Indian National Congress at Kanpur 
authorised the executives of the provincial committees to select 
candidates for the Central Assembly and the Provincial Councils. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had studied the composition of the 
U.P. Council before and after the 1919 Reforms. He was well 
conversant with the limitations under which the Council worked. 
Under the 1919 Reforms Act, elections to the Council took place 
in 1923 and 1926. Having sulfered long imprisonment, Dr. 
Murari Lai was not eligible to contest in 1923, so Narain Prasad 
Arora was nominated for the seat. In 1926 Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was the only choice. But he was opposed to Council- 
entry programme as he thought that one could do more cons¬ 
tructive work outside the Council, rather than from within that. 

In one of his letters addressed to Banarsi Das Chaturvedi, 
editor Vishal Bharat, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi plainly wrote to 
him on 1 June 1926 that he did not think much benefit would 
accrue by his entering the legislature. According to him, the 
atmosphere there was so vicious that the common man could not 
derive any benefit by deliberations in the Council. By adopting the 
compromise resolution at the Kanpur session, the Congress had 
done a disservice to the country. He was personally not at all 
inclined to contest the elections; and would have been fortunate 
if he had been left out. But the situation was quite otherwise. 

At Kanpur very few candidates were eligible. Dr. Murari Lai 
was already ineligible. Dr. Jawahar Lai Rohatgi also could not 



have become eligible as he too had suffered one and a half years’ 
imprisonment. According to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, it was 
unfortunate that the only candidate, who could contest, was a man 
who was ready to spend rupees fifty thousand, only to get an 
opportunity to shake hands with the then governor. 

He wrote to Banarsi Das Chaturvedi that the local Congress 
Committee had with one voice nominated him to contest the 
election to the U.P. Council from Kanpur. He opposed the 
move; only Bal Krishna sided with him. Thereafter the matter was 
considered by the U.P.P.C.C. and he informed the committee in 
writing that he wanted to be spared. But the U.P.P.C.C. turned 
down his request and approved his candidature. The decision had 
even appeared in the news-papers. In spite of all that, he asked 
for ten days’ time to give his final consent. This time-limit was to 
expire on 10 June. He was face to face with another difiiculty. If he 
did not agree to contest and sacrifice, most of the veteran Congress 
workers of Kanpur would resign. Therefore, considering the 
larger interest of the party, he had agreed to contest. He did not 
believe in the utility of the Council-entry programme. In his 
humble view, elections were the root cause of Hindu-Muslim 
differences. Having entered the legislature, one could not be free 
to serve the common people. He sought advice from his friends so 
that he might give his consent by 10 June. He requested Banarsi 
Das Chaturvedi also to oblige him by giving advice in time of 

Besides the above-mentioned letter, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
at the U.P.P.C.C. meeting held in August 1926, moved a resolu¬ 
tion that under the then prevailing conditions of communal 
bitterness, running of elections by Congress would be harmful to 
the best interests of the country. The Secretary, Jyoti Shankar 
Dixit forwarded the resolution to the Congress headquarters and 
the same was considered by the Working Committee meeting on 
25 August 1926. Earlier six members of the Swaraj Party in the 
Central Assembly had tabled a resolution requesting permission 
for a walk-in in the Assembly. The matter was fully considered by 



a well-attended meeting of the Swarajist members of the Assembly 
on 24 August and it was settled by a majority of those present 
though some of the members had already left Simla. 

When a controversy appeared in the Leader (Allahabad) 
dated 25 August 1926 that Sri Prakasa had voted against the 
resolution tabled by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, it was clarified 
that the former had voted against the resolution, which was 
ultimately carried by the casting vote of the president, Hasrat 
Mohani. Although the proceedings were private, he divulged that 
most of the persons, who voted for Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi’s 
resolution, were actively working for the elections on behalf of 
non-Congress bodies. Their desire was that the Congress should 
not do anything oflicially. They did not feel that the Congressmen 
individually were bound not to do so. According to Sri Prakasa 
this was not honest politics. 

Despite best attempts of Pandit Motilal Nehru, the Swaraj 
Party weakened. Lala Lajpat Rai, deputy leader of the party in 
the Legislative Assembly resigned. He declared at Simla on 27 
August that the Swaraj Party was harmful to the Hindus. Along 
with Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and others he formed the 
Nationalist Party. Muslims defected from the Swaraj Party and 
most of the Hindus, elected members of the Assembly, joined the 
Nationalist Party. 

Pandit Motilal Nehru issued a rejoinder to Lala Lajpat Rai. 
But, when Madan Mohan Malaviya, M.R. Jayakar, Kelkar and 
Moonje sounded a note of difference, the party split. Kanpur 
politics was also affected and on 6 September 1926 a Responsive 
Co-operation Party was formed with Maulana Hasrat Mohani as 
President; Narain Prasad Arora, M.L.C. became its Vice-Presi¬ 
dent, Chunni Lai Garg, Rais; Babu Dwarka Prasad, Kanahya Lai 
and Babu Rupchand became its members. The party approved the 
action of Lala Lajpat Rai in severing connection with the Swaraj 

As the next elections were fast approaching, electioneering at 



Kanpur started in right earnest. Anand Swarup appealed to the 
citizens of Kanpur not to allow public life to deteriorate. 

Veritable confusion ensued at Kanpur. When Madan Mohan 
Malaviya and Lala Lajpat Rai were to visit Kanpur, to boost up 
the candidature of the nominee of the newly formed Independent 
Congress Party of Nationalists, the local Swarajists also expressed 
their desire to receive them to muster support for their candidate, 
viz , Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. The rank and file of Congressmen 
at Kanpur knew not what to do. 

Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya visited Kanpur on 19 October 
1926 and addressed a huge audience. He criticized the Swarajist 
Party and eulogised the large-heartedness of Babu Anand Swarup 
in withdrawing from the field in favour of Chunni Lai Vaish. 

Despite overwhelming odds and division among Congressmen, 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was persuaded to file his nomination 
papers as a candidate of the Swaraj Party. He was thus pitted 
against the Nationalist Party and the Hindu Mahasabha. His 
opponent was a capitalist and wanted to win the election with the 
strength of his money. On the other hand, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi could count on the support of his ardent followers and 
devoted workers. The streets of Kanpur rang with shouts of 
“Ganesh Shankar, Ganesh Shankar—Citizens of Kanpur do not 
forget him!” 

Polling for the election was held on 27 November 1926 and 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi won by an overwhelming majority. 
Although the Swarajists fared badly in other parts of U.P., and 
even stalwarts like Sri Prakasa and Dr. K.N. Katju were defeated, 
yet Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi succeeded in trouncing his oppo¬ 
nent. This victory at the polls raised his status in the political arena 
and the door was open for him to show his mettle on the floor of 
the House itself. 

The Gauhati session of the Indian National Congress had laid 
down guidelines for the congressmen in the councils. They were 



not to accept ministerships or other offices and also to oppose the 
formation of a Ministry by other parties. On the other hand, they 
were free to take steps to get improvement done in the condi¬ 
tion of agricultural tenants by getting measures enacted for the 
fixity of tenure. They were also directed to protect the rights of 
labour, agricultural and industrial. 

The Swarajist Party in the U.P. Legislative Council consisted 
of twentythree members and Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was one 
of them. Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant acted as its leader. Babu 
Sampurnanand was also one of the members. But most of the 
legislators belonged to the class of taluqdars and zamindars and 
they afforded sufficient matter for Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi to 
comment upon in his paper. Besides reports and proceedings, the 
paper was usually full of tit-bits about the landed aristocracy in 
the Council. 

The newly constituted Legislative Council met on Monday, 
fO January Z927 in the Council Chamber, Lucknow. Rai Bahadur 
Lala Sita Ram took the oath as Chairman. Then the other 
members took the oath. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was also one 
of them and on 24 January participated in the election of the 
Deputy President, Mukundi Lai. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was an enthusiastic legislator and 
his performance in the Council from 1927 to 1929 ranked him 
among the great parliamentarians of pre-independence India. 
His contribution in the shape of debates, speeches and searching 
questions, national as well as local, was remarkable. He chose 
Hindi as the medium and most of his speeches show that he was 
well-prepared and had worked hard to collect facts. The imposing 
galaxy of questions that stand in his name covering such a vast 
range, shows how popular he was. Being an editor of a leading 
Hindi weekly, with nationalist leanings, he must have been , 
approached by people enthusiastically. And he tenaciously pursued 
their queries, which elicited from the government revealing 
information. He relentlessly pursued the path of exposing the 
corrupt officers and their misdeeds. 



During the budget session, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was 
busy with the interpellation work. It was only in the winter 
session that he made his impassioned speeches on the Naik Girls’ 
Protection Bill and the Resolution regarding Reclamation of the 
Criminal Tribes. As regards the first, he at the outset welcomed 
the Bill and hoped that the Select Committee would when 
appointed, look into its various aspects. He agreed that the 
standard of the Naik community could be raised by spread of 
education. He reiterated what Badri Dutt Pande had said in the 
House in that regard as the latter had successfully worked for the 
uplift of the Naiks. In all probability, he and his co-workers had 
saved half of the girls of the Naiks from adopting the profession 
of prostitution. He asserted, if the Government had aided such 
social workers or their institutions, the Naiks would have them¬ 
selves realised that their girls should not adopt the trade in flesh. 

However, as it was thought proper to introduce some sort of 
legislation to put a curb on that, the same was all the more 
better. He desired that people should not bring religion as an 
impediment to such a reform. According to the speaker, so many 
things were being perpetrated in the name of religion in several 
countries of the world and India could not fall in line with them. 
In his view, it was a matter of shame for all and especially for the 
religion which tolerated such social evils. 

He drew the attention of the Select Committee to the provision 
of eighteen years permissible age in the Draft Bill. He pointed 
out that there was no restriction for girls of other communities. 
The result of such a restriction would be that in place of Naik 
girls, professionals would bring girls of other communities for 
prostitution. This would be very bad for other communities. 
Therefore it was imperative that the restriction of eighteen years 
age should apply to all girls irrespective of community link. 

In ancient times, the hills were the abode of saints and learned 
persons, but in modern times good many people went to the hills 
only to enjoy themselves. Due to the influx of such people to hill 



resorts, there would be the question of demand and supply. So the 
very purpose of the Bill would be defeated. Therefore, he hoped 
that the Select Committee would keep this in view. Pandit Govind 
Ballabh Pant also regretted that such a disgraceful practice was 
still in vogue even in 1.927; and the sooner that ended, the better. 

Reclamation of Criminal Tribes 

On 2 November, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was provoked to 
speak out his mind regarding the reclamation of criminal tribes 
whose number was over fifty thousand in 1927 in U.P. Out of 
them hardly three thousand were in the settlements. 3362 people 
were divided into seven settlements; six of them were under the 
Salvation Army and only one was run by the Government. He 
was of opinion that all such settlements should be handed over 
to non-official bodies. Citing the example of the government-run 
settlement at Kalyanpur, he said that during 1924-25, per person 
expenditure came to rupees forty-three, while the Salvation Army 
had to spend only rupees ten per head. It was clear that money 
was being wasted at Kalyanpur and government’s policy regarding 
their reclamation was a failure. 

As the laws governing the criminal tribes were ineffective, 
they could never be reformed to be good men. He praised the 
work done by the Salvation Army which had uplifted them from 
lower level to higher life of a social being. It was because of that 
type of work that two or more thousand people escaped from 
going to jail. He was not afraid of their proselytisation even if they 
could escape the clutches of the police. He also clarified that the 
uplift of the depressed classes should automatically be covered by 
the Resolution, if not then the House might consider that issue 

It was, however, clarified by the Government that they were 
willing to consider the offers of voluntary agencies. Two such 
organisations, viz., Dilatuddhar Sabha of Delhi and an Arya 
Samajist organisation of Lucknow had sent in their applications 



to the Government. Concrete proposals were likely to be con¬ 
sidered. The then Government was not prepared to take away the 
settlements from the Salvation Army and their own settlement was 
expensive. So its promise to consider alternatives was only an 
empty assurance which could not be implemented. 

Contribution Bill 

While on two earlier occasions Ganesh Shankar Vidyaithi 
evinced his ardent desire for social reform and uplift of the back¬ 
ward and depressed classes, the debate on the Contribution Bill 
introduced by the zamindars association, showed his high sense of 
humour. The Bill aimed at facilitating easy and inexpensive 
realization of the contribution from the members of the Associa¬ 
tion of Zamindars on the lines of the British Indian Association 
Contribution Act. While the zamindars welcomed the Bill, the 
tenants protested against that. 

According to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, as the Association 
was a voluntary one, it was not clear to him why the government 
machinery was to be burdened with the work of realizing their 
contribution. His speech was full of sarcasm. It was clear that, if 
the Contribution Bill was passed, it would facilitate the 
realization of membership fee by the Agra Province Zamindar 
Association. He said, as he was running a small weekly paper, he 
would be happy if the Government would realize its subscriptions 
also. His colleague and veteran editor C.Y. Chintamani might 
become jealous after listening to his words and would prefer if 
subscriptions to his paper, the Leader, were also realised by law. 
Hence he announced his intention to support the Bill as all those 
who support that would also endorse the idea of having Pratap- 
Leader-Combination Contribution Bill, being introduced in the 
U.P. Legislative Council. They would be still more beneficial as 
their news-papers normally benefited the public by doing great 
service to humanity through dissemination of news. 



Questions and Answers 

In the Budget session of March 1927, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi’s attention in the Council was focussed on eliciting 
answers relating to questions pertaining to opening of a booking 
office at the railway station at Mendu near Hathras Junction, 
disallowing honorary magistrates from standing as candidates for 
election to the Legislative Council like other paid government 
servants, prosecution of editors and publishers of newspapers 
under Sec. 153-A of Indian Penal Code, total number of criminal 
tribes under surveillance of the police, shadowing of persons by 
C.I.D. in the year 1926, diet to infirm prisoners, special diet to 
European prisoners at Christmas, river pollution at Kanpur and 
Varanasi and police officials stationed at Kanpur. 

During the April and June sessions of the Council, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi continued his volley of questions. He enquired 
regarding the tenure of Nawabzada Ejaz Ali Khan of Muzaffar- 
nagar as special magistrate, cases disposed of by him upto 15 
February and related matters. He also wanted to know if the 
diploma-holders of the Allahabad University in Commerce were 
recognized as equally qualified as those who had passed their 
Intermediate Examination. He enquired from the Government if 
appointment of the Commission to enquire into the official 
interference in elections of certain districts of Jhansi, Hamirpur 
and Banda, was under consideration. 

The condition of the Massacre Ghat Temple at Kanpur and 
the Cross thereon, ever since 1857, and its maintenance as a 
monument in 1927 formed part of another question. Other 
questions put by him related to prisoners in the Andaman and 
Nicobar Islands, treatment of prisoners on jail holidays, canal 
revenue rates in Mirzapur; and prohibition of government 
servants from raising subscriptions from public. 

On 24 June 1927, the most important question raised by him 
in the Council related to complaints against Sub-Inspector of 



Shikohabad, Mainpuri. It evoked one of the most important 
debates in the Council. Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Said Khan 
of Chattari fiom the government benches and A.P. Dube and 
Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant from the opposition participated. 
Revealing details were provided and the Government was in the 
dock; and it held that an inquiry was to be held before the 
sub-inspector of police was proceeded against in view of the 
strictures contained in the High Court judgement. It divulged that 
the sub-inspector was neither suspended nor removed from the 
district, he was only transferred from the police station. In actual¬ 
ity, he was allowed all facilities to conduct the contempt case and 
seek redress from the Pratap and its editor. 

From the questions put by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi in the 
Council, it is clear that he was always anxious to expose corrupt 
officials and championed the cause of the employees of lower 
grades. In June and December, he raised the question of high 
prices, excessive house rents and the inadequate pay of the peons 
of the Courts at Kanpur. The reply given by the Government 
stated that the matter was under consideration of the Government. 

In October 1927, the stationing of the punitive police at 
Kanpur and the number of arrests made in connection with com¬ 
munal riots at Kanpur figured prominently in his questions. He 
was informed that the cost of stationing police for six months was 
about Rs. 30,000 and the Hindu as well as Muslim inhabitants, 
excluding government servants, pensioners and honorary magis¬ 
trates; assistant collectors and munsifs of certain mohallasand 
parts of mohallas in police circles of Kotwali and Anwarganj were 
liable to pay that. According to him the imposition of punitive tax 
on the citizens of Kanpur was an act of tyranny. The riots occurred 
due to the laxity of the police and the people were subjected to 
rigours of a punitive tax. 

During the ensuing year, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi continued 
follow-up of his earlier questions regarding pollution of the river 
Ganges at Banaras and the treatment of mill employees at Kanpur. 



As regards the second question, the Government showed some 
reluctance to interfere in the affairs of private factories as they 
came under the Factories Act. There was no reply to the specific 
charge regarding the discharge of 150 persons from July to 
September 1927 and confiscation of their arrears. His other 
questions related to the Boy Scouts Association, its office bearers, 
appointment and removal of the organizing secretary and the 
position of Katarpur riot case prisoners in jail even after 10 years 
or so despite provision for remission in sentences. 

Another question relating to the Kanpur Improvement Trust 
was more elaborate and the Government was compelled to furnish 
details. The approximate area with the Trust was 940 acres. 
Approximately 1521 houses had been demolished and 1614 built. 
Due to Rai Bahadur Anand Swarup being on leave the Chief 
Engineer of the Trust, A. Roland Rice was appointed as Acting 
Chairman. Questions were also asked regarding the conduct of 
Avadh Behari Lai, the sale officer of the Trust and his transactions 
regarding the sale of the land. Although his name was also 
proposed for the post of Acting Chairman, yet he was not favour¬ 
ed by the majority. So Roland Rice carried negotiations for the 
sale of the plots at Sarsaiya Ghats in his own way. The irregulari¬ 
ties committed by him were laid bare in the House. The plots were 
never advertised for sale, only sealed offers were invited and even 
the Board of Trust was not consulted. In this way Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi exposed the errors and omissions of the trust and 
local board officials. His contribution in this respect was appre¬ 
ciated by one and all. 

Even when he was not present in the Council after June 1929, 
his questions were attended to, specially relating to distribution of 
taqavi to peasants. Trade Union Act, working of the office of the 
Director of Industries and selection of the Principal of 
Technical School, Lucknow, The House was informed that 
Rs. 118 lakhs in 1928-29 and Rs. 33 lakhs by June 1929 had been 
distributed as taqavi to peasants in every district of the province. 
Parts of the districts of Gonda and Bahraich had been declared 



famine-affected and peasants had been provided relief in the form 
of work and grant. 

Resolution on Agricultural Situation 

Agriculture being the predominant occupation in the province, 
on 24 September 1928, Chaudhri Vijai Pal Singh moved a resolu¬ 
tion regarding the agricultural situation. It recommended to the 
Government that effective measures be taken forthwith to relieve 
the distress caused by the failure of the last rabi and kharif crops, 
remit land revenue on a liberal scale and grant adequate help to 
cultivators in every district. Although the question of laqavi was 
considered, when the supplementary estimates were undertaken, 
liberal remissions were imperative. The resolution received all¬ 
round support in the House. Even the Government was inclined 
to raise the amount of remission of revenue from twenty to thirty 
lakhs of rupees. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi made an eloquent speech on the 
resolution on 24 September 1928. He forcefully asserted that the 
members in the House had no idea as to the extent of havoc 
caused to the crops by severe drought. In many places fields had 
dried up and in thirty-six districts, the cattle had been afflicted 
with diseases. Shortage of fodder was reported from a number of 
districts. Prices of grains had gone up everywhere. He said further 
that Bundelkhand districts were in the grip of severe drought and 
there was great distress. In Awadh the districts of Sultanpur, 
Rae Bareli, Fyzabad, Bareilly and Shahjahanpur had been badly 
affected. In actuality, the whole of the province was affected. The 
forecast about rains in previous years had been falsified and the 
agricultural situation was deteriorating day by day. The damage 
to the crops had been there for the last two years. He had know¬ 
ledge of some cases in which villagers not having strength to bear 
starvation, had committed suicide. There were others who had 
been compelled to sell their daughters for a paltry sum so that 



they might pay the rent and thus save themselves from forcible 
ejactment. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had issued a questionnaire 
regarding the plight of kisans in U.P. and had received data by 
15 June which made his forthright speech well documented. 

It was also revealed by him in the House that the concerned 
officials had at several places erred grossly in estimating the 
damage to the crops. He cited specific instances of a few villages 
in the districts of Partapgarh and Jaunpur, which showed how the 
patwaris, at the lowest rung, gave wrong reports just to please 
kanungos and tehsildars. According to the information supplied 
to him the revenue officials deliberately tried to show that the 
damage to the crops was not great. 

In the light of the above-mentioned facts, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, while expressing gratification at the provision of 
twenty lakhs of rupees for taqavi by the Finance Member, said 
that the same was grossly inadequate. Out of the population of 
five crores in the province, at least four crores were agriculturists. 
If the amount of Rs. 20 lakhs was distributed amongst 80 or 90 
lakh families, each one’s share would be negligible. So he wanted 
more money to be diverted for taqavi, even from big hydro¬ 
electric schemes. The situation was so serious that all other pro¬ 
jects were to be suspended if necessary to make funds available 
for the purpose. Besides, theie should be remission of rent. Others 
could benefit if the kisans were prosperous. They were like hens 
who laid golden eggs. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi while speaking on the Public 
Safety Bill said that it was based on the apprehension that factory 
workers might be instigated to revolt against the opulent. But he 
genuinely thought that the kisans might imbibe the spirit of revolt 
against the prevailing feudal structure. He was of the opinion that 
those who were deprived of the means of livelihood, had a right to 
snatch a morsel from the haves. He warned his colleagues that, if 
some of them were forced to starve only, for five or ten days, 
they would revise their concept of the sins of those who were 



sitting high and looked down upon the have-nots. Necessity for 
the enactment of Public Safety Act would only arise if the condi¬ 
tion of the kisans continued to deteriorate and they were driven 
to revolt. He asserted that, if there was any revolt, the responsi¬ 
bility for that would be on the government and not on the poor 
kisans. The effect of the eloquent speech on the House was 
electrifying. Speaker after speaker rose to support the demand for 
more taqan. Rampant corruption among the officials had to be 
diminished as it could not be rooted out overnight. Badri Dutt 
Pande once again rose to speak in favour of the resolution and 
quoted from Bhagwat Gita—Give to the needy, give to the poor. 
There was none to oppose the resolution and it was adopted after 
accepting two amendments moved by Hafiz Hidayat Hussain. 

Jail and Convict Settlements 

During the Budget session of 1929-30, lively debate ensued on 
the assertion of Nawab Muhammad Alimad Said Khan that jails 
were a place of punishment and not a place of reformation. 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi delivered his most thought-provoking 
and well-prepared speech. At the outset he pointed out that the 
condition of the jails was not what it was in 1923-24. In the last 
para of the report the Inspector-General of Prisons had himself 
painted a rosy picture by saying. . .convict finds life easy and 
pleasant in jail. Food is plentiful and wholesome. Clothing is good 
and discipline is not too irksome, so he has no real grievances”. If 
this was the correct picture, the speaker asserted that some 
members of the House might be inclined to go to jail again. 
Although the report had been skilfully drafted, it did not give a 
correct picture. Conditions in the jail were far from satisfactory 
and needed reform. The report itself had admitted that the 
“habitual offenders” could not be reformed. Facilities given there 
were being withdrawn; as a result of which they would soon 
become hardened criminals. 

It had been mentioned in the report that in 1926 there were 



194 convicts facing death sentence. Previously they used to be 
hanged only in those very jails. But due to revision in rules, they 
were being hanged at selected places, numbering 13 or 14 in the 
whole province. The women convicts were hanged only in 
Fyzabad jail. As a result of these changes, the relatives of the 
convicts, so hanged, could never reach them in time to have their 
last glimpse. This arrangement deserved a change. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi further pointed out that arrange¬ 
ments for the supply of books were inadequate. Hardly three or 
four books were available for 600 to 700 prisoners, those too 
comprised of the Bible, the Ramayana and the Koran. As regards 
labour prescribed for prisoners, it had been pointed out that “oil 
pressing”, which had been discarded in Great Britain, continued 
in India. The plight of convicts, working on “oil presses”, in 
sweltering heat, was worst. Persons, enjoying the cool breeze of 
fans in the House, could not visualise the hardships of such 

The speaker pointed out contradictions in the report, wherein 
it had been mentioned that the health of convicts had improved 
and they had gained weight, which was extremely doubtful. On the 
other hand, it had been recorded in the same report that “Sultan- 
pur reported the highest number of deaths (48) of these 46 were 
due to tuberculosis.” The Home Member had at one time said 
that the patients, who had little chances of survival, would be 
released. He also complained that prisoners on release were not 
given adequate travelling expenses. He cited the case of one 
Katarpur riot prisoner who was given a piece of cloth, only half 
the size of dhoti, that too in winter, with inadequate travelling 
expenses to go from Kanpur to Hardwar, a distance of more than 
480 kilometers. The prisoner had been in jail for eight years. 

Jail Riots 

Continuing his speech, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi mentioned 
about riots in Banaras and Lucknow Central Jail. The High Court 



had in its judgment recommended ‘an independent inquiiy into the 
administration’, but the Government did not accept that. He also 
cited the plight of prisoners of Kakori Train Dacoity Case. He 
wanted the Home Member to state if there was any provision 
under which they could be included in the category of habitual 
oifenders. According to him, father of one convict sent to his son 
(Manmath Nath Gupta) three registered letters, but he received 
reply to none. The Superintendent of Bareilly Jail, did not get the 
letters delivered. The same was the case of Yogesh Babu whose 
mother waited in vain for news from her son. As against such 
deplorable state of affairs, he was surprised to find how a rosy 
picture had been painted in the report. 

The discussion on the Report of Jails Inquiry Committee was 
resumed again on 26 October 1929. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
pointed out certain salient principles of the report. It stated, “The 
prison system, while reformatory, must restrain liberty, must act 
effectively as a deterrent and must also contain an element of 
retribution. The treatment must in addition be essentially humane 
and in the main educative.” He welcomed that the principle had 
been borrowed from England and Wales. He said that it was more 
necessary to reduce incidence of criminal cases rather than effect 
reforms in jails. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi also cited the condition of jails in 
the" then Gwalior State where not only the number of prisoners 


had declined, but some of the district jails had also been abolished. 
He asserted that there was no unauthorised punishment and on 
special occasions, e.g. ruler’s birthday, Holi and Deepawali, the 
prisoners were given special food. There was arrangement for 
education of the jail inmates. Professor Kulkarni of the Victoria 
College used to give lectures to them. Arrangements existed for 
vocational teaching also so that the prisoners might take up some 
vocation after their release. 

In the end, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi drew the attention of 
the House to horrible condition of female inmates of the jails. 



According to him, the report had not done justice to their condi¬ 
tion. He referred to a publication of Pandita Parvati Devi who 
was confined in Fatehgarh Jail. Harrowing tales of atrocities on 
female convicts were narrated in it. He quoted from it incidents 
of caning them and parading them naked. He mentioned about 
special treatment accorded to European prisoners in case of diet, 
clothing and accommodation. He criticised the policy of preferen¬ 
tial treatment to Europeans. He concluded his graphic narration 
by quoting Oscar Wilde who wrote about his jail life in the 
following words: 

“We tore the Tarry rope to shreads 
with blunt and bleeding nails. 

We rubbed the doors and scrubbed the floors, 

And cleaned the shining rails. 

With slouch and sling 
Around the wing 
We walked the Fools’ Parade. 

We did not care 

We knew we were 

The Devil’s own Brigade.” 

He appealed to the Government to accord the most humanising 
treatment to political prisoners. He warned that, if it wanted the 
fight for freedom not to become bitter, it should act quickly. He 
exclaimed that “the country would rise and rise valiantly”. The 
authorities should not harp on the British Empire which was 
tottering and was bound to disintegrate. In such an environment 
when the British Empiie was on its last legs, he advised the 
authorities to give political prisoners a much better deal. 

General Administration 

When the Council started discussion on General Administra¬ 
tion, the question of joint responsibility of the ministers holding 
charge of Transferred Subjects was raised. Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi charged the Member in charge of Industries with 



callousness and carelessness regarding the interests of lakhs of 
mill-workers. He wanted to know from the latter what he had 
done for the five lakhs of families under his charge. As he hailed 
from an industrial town, he knew how their condition was 
worsening daily. The condition in towns of Lucknow, Allahabad, 
Gorakhpur, Jhansi, Ferozabad and other places was equally bad. 
In his view, the working conditions in the mills were horrible. In 
summer, there was no facilities, even for drinking water. He 
stated that the U.P. Government could make recommendations to 
the Government of India regarding payment of compensation to 
workers in case of accidents. Provision could also be made for 
proper housing, sickness insurance and provident fund scheme. 
Spirit of communalism prevailing in some of the mills deserved to 
be put down with an iron hand. Medical facilities deserved to be 
augmented. Workers suffering from tuberculosis were to be 
accorded instant treatment. Most of such workers were Muslims 
and had no means to arrange for their treatment. Some of the 
factories had improper environment and inadequate fresh air 
available. If the housing problem was under the Local Self- 
Government Minister, the Industries Minister could talk to him 
and the principle of joint responsibility put into practice in 
administration. With these words Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
supported the motion on General Administration. 

By June 1929, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had completed two 
and a half years as legislator and had made his mark. He himself 
had attained maturity in the art of parliamentarianism. His ques¬ 
tions reflected his fighting mood and inborn desire to serve the 
poor and the exploited. The answers that he received from the 
Government regarding distribution of taqavi to the peasants. 
Trade Union Act, etc., fulfilled his purpose to a great extent. 
When he could not be present in the Council, his job was carried 
on by Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant and others who were able to 
elicit answers from the Government. 

A perusal of the questions put by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
shows that they were of far-reaching importance. Most of them 



had provincial importance and very few questions were regarding 
local problems and the Pratap. 

As the term of the Council was nearing completion and the 
All India National Congress was debating the question of Council 
entry, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi again asserted that the entry of 
the Congress workers to the Lesiglatures had affected the organi¬ 
sation adversely. The leaders were prone to forget the constructive 
programme which was their piimary duty. In view of the prevailing 
anti-CounciJ entry programme, the Congress members started 
abstaining from the Council. The main focus of the All India 
Congress was to declare Puma Swarajya (Complete Independence) 
as the goal at Lahore. Both the wings of the Congress joined 
hands and vowed to work under the leadership of Mahatma 
Gandhi. With the declaration of independence as the goal, the 
Council entry programme fell into the background. Ganesh 
Shankai Vidyarthi had his day and plunged headlong into the 
preparations for the Civil Disobedience movement, if and when 


In the Service of Literature 

IN THE words of Banarsidas Chaturvedi, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi created good many literateurs, made writers and 
literary men into budding journalists. Once he queried his friend 
and an editor of another journal, as to why, in spite of so many 
years of existence, he could not create even one good writer. His 
friend had no reply. 

In this respect Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was a true disciple 
of his master, Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, editor of the 
Saraswati. His magazine was many-sided in its interests and was 
widely read. The Saraswati was acknowledged to be the best 
produced journal of its times, during the eighteen years of his 
editorship. Dwivedi was identified with the propagation of Khari 
Boli as against Brij Bhasa. As a result of his inspiring leadership, 
there arose an imposing galaxy of poets, writers and journalists, 
who at one time or the other belonged to the group of the Pratap 
writers. Amongst other journalists, who were making a great 
contribution to Hindi journalism and the enrichment of Hindi, 
were Balmukund Gupta of the Bharat Mitra, Laxmi Narayan 
Garde, Baburao Vishnu Paradkar and the Malaviyas at Allahabad. 
With the emergence of the Pratap, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
came into prominence and then followed Banarsidas Chaturvedi, 
Brindaban Lai Varma, Krishna Dutt Paliwal, Bal Krishna Sharma 
‘Navin’, Dashrath Prasad Dwivedi, Makhan Lai Chaturvedi and a 
host of others. 

During the early years of the century, the plight of Hindi 
journalists, much less of literary as well as creative writers, was 
unenviable. Pecuniary difficulties abounded and government 



surveillance of the growth of patriotic literature at every step 
hampered its development. The work could hardly be remunera¬ 
tive. Working day and night, an editor could aspire to earn 
only thirty to forty rupees a month. As for the poets, prose- 
writers and reporters, there was hardly any worthwhile remunera¬ 
tion. Mere publication of one’s composition in a journal was 
regarded as a great achievement. 

In spite of the heavy odds and above all financial matters, the 
editor of the Pratap collected around him devoted writers. 
Amongst the earliest contributors to the Pratap Weekly in 
November 1914, were Brindaban Lai Varma, Shridhar Pathak and 
Ambika Prasad Bajpai. The poets included Madhav Shukla, 
Maithili Saran Gupta and others. According to the reminiscences 
of Brindaban Lai Varma, he was one of the earliest to join as 
correspondent to the Pratap. Thereafter he became one of its 
contributors. He wrote an article on Modern Hindi Literature and 
Nationalism. He also initiated humorous titbits, as described 
earlier under the auspices of Golmal Karini Sabha. Bal Krishna 
Bhutt and Mannan Dwivedi lent a helping hand to him. Humour 
and caricaturing made the paper popular and effective. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi encouraged not only political 
writings but also literary, including humorous ones. The prose 
literature was enriched rapidly. By 1921 the producers of the 
sister publication Prabha, entering its second year, under the joint 
editorship of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi could boast of having 
given to their readers 777 pages of readable matter, 11 colour 
pages and 129 black and white illustrations. They could rightly 
claim to have made the articles and illustrations as contemporary 
as no other journals could do. In procuring the illustrations they 
had spent moie money on sending telegrams and messengers than 
they could afford to. The illustrations of Punjab disturbances, 
Amritsar Congress, leaders returning from abroad, atrocities 
of state rulers, were shining examples. All this herculean effort 
encouraged the development of Hindi literature. 

The January 1921 issue contained poems of Maithili Saran 



Gupta, Bal Krishna Sharma ‘Navin’, Bhagwati Prasad Bajpai and 
an article by Munshi Prem Chand. Other important features were 
Flow of Ideas; Focus on Contemporary Literature and Editorial 
Comments. This standard was maintained and in 1924, when only 
Bal Krishna Sharma edited Prabha, it claimed to be an illustrated 
political monthly journal, with special focus on Kanpur Bolshevik 
Conspiracy convicts. The issue also contained a number of 
cartoons on ‘Khilafat and Indian Musalmans’, ‘Indian Viceroy 
and the Chief Justice of U.K.’—‘Two faces of the same picture’. 
Besides that it had articles by Munshi Prem Chand, Ram Naresh 
Tripathi, Paripurnanand Varma and others. Humour and cari¬ 
caturing made the contemporary Hindi literature of Dwivedi era, 
richer and richer. Hindi journalism began to attain maturity under 
the dynamic leadership of Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi and 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. 

Swarajya Sahitya 

Much had been written about the development of Hindi 
prose, stories, novels and modern poetry, but very little had been 
said about the production of national literature in Hindi. In this 
sphere the contribution of the Pratap was unique. Editing of a 
Hindi weekly in 1913-14, with nationalistic stance, was not an 
easy task. Journals like the Hindi Kesari of Nagpur and Karmayogi 
of Allahabad had ceased publication. The tentacles of the Press 
Act of 1910 and subsequently the Censorship under the Defence 
of India Rules hung over the head of the editor like the sword of 
Democles. In such an atmosphere Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi’s 
debut as a votary of Swarajya Sahitya was simply extraordinary. 
In the Novembei 1916 issue of the Pratap as many as six articles 
appeared regarding such literature in Hindi. Every special number 
of the paper came out with patriotic poems, stirring articles and 
sensational but revealing reports. Subjects like peasants’ and mill- 
workers’ plight, indentured labour; Indian overseas, the subjects 
of the then princely states, social reform, etc. filled the columns of 
the Pratap year after year. Through his untiring efforts, his paper 



became a formidable forum for Swarqfya Sahitya. The speed and 
rapidity with which this was poured into the hands of the sub¬ 
scribers alarmed the authorities and they tried to put him behind 
the bars and forfeit such literature. 

Mobilisation of the Youth 

In order to create and disseminate nationalistic literature, 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi needed a devoted band of young and 
enthusiastic writers. He himself wrote a number of such articles 
under pseudo names and soon gathered around him persons like 
Luxmidhar Bajpai and others. Bajpai had thrown light on how in 
1914, after he had started the Pratap, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
visited Chittor and stayed enroute at Agra. At that time, he met 
Badri Dutt Bhatt, Ram Ratan, Brindaban Lai Varma, Bhagwat 
Narain Bhargava, Thakur Manjeet Singh Rathor of Dehradun; 
Newal Kishore Bhartiya, Satyanarain Agarwala and others. 
Banarsidas Chaturvedi also joined him. After their very first 
meeting with Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, they became his ardent 
admirers. When he departed from Agra for Chittor, one youth, 
Krishna Dutt Paliwal accompanied him. This companionship was 
to be the most outstanding for the next two decades. 

Krishna Dutt Paliwal recorded in his article published in 1960 
that he had met Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi in the office of 
Aryamitra, with Luxmidhar Bajpai. At that time he was a student 
of Agra College. During their journey to Chittor, he took fancy 
to him and invited Paliwal to join the Pratap (Kanpur) after 
doing his B. A. When he actually reached Kanpur, he was abruptly 
told that as he was going to Hardwar for treatment, Paliwal 
should look after the Pratap. Despite his diffidence and inex¬ 
perience, the editor reposed such a great trust in him. Another 
young man, Rama Shankar Awasthi joined the Pratap and later 
on edited Vartman independently. 

The Pratap not only attracted Hindi writers, but revolution¬ 
aries like Raja Mahendra Pratap, Sardar Bhagat Singh and 




Professor Jai Chand Vidyalankar, were also constantly writing 
either letters to the editor or contributing to Swarajya Sahitya. 
The paper then became popular not only in India but also abroad. 
The Indians overseas began to subscribe that and thus it began to 
enrich Hindi literature by contribution from them or about them. 
Number of its subscribers surpassed that of any other weekly. 

Soon the Pratap became the weekly of the masses. It reached 
the hands of peasants of Rae Bareli, Champaran and several 
native states. Its championship of the cause of the mill-workers, 
political prisoners and tribals endeared it to them. Those, who 
had never read ABC of Hindi literature, began to learn the news 
through its columns. Good many villagers learnt Hindi only to be 
able to read the Pratap. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi always took 
care that the language of the paper, the articles and reports 
published therein, was simple and lucid. If some one wrote difficult 
prose, he would persuade him to rewrite the same in simple words 
as his paper was for peasants and mill-workers. It aimed at 
propagation of Hindi. He himself wrote in simple, and commonly 
spoken language. In this way his leadership afforded the Pratap 
and its Hindi a new direction which set the pace for other Hindi 
journals also. In actuality, the Pratap had become a training 
ground for new Hindi journalists. 

Lingua Franca of India 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had been closely following 
Mahatma Gandhi’s propagation of Hindi as the lingua franca of 
India. In his speech at the Kashi Nagari Pracharini Sabha on 
5 February 1916. Mahatma Gandhi exclaimed, “Freedom cannot 
be gained without literature.” People should convey to the masses 
in their mother-tongue, the advanced thoughts and new ideas 
which were at that time only available in English. In order to 
give effect to that he said that it was the duty of the Nagari 
Pracharini Sabha to translate into Hindi the books available in 



Subsequently, at the All-India Common Script and Common 
Language Conference, organised by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
and others at Lucknow, Mahatma Gandhi elaborated how Hindi 
could be learnt all over the country. More and more books were 
to be translated or written in Hindi. Workers were to be deputed 
for the teaching of Hindi to non-Hindi areas. He was hopeful 
that, if the Conference would send out men to teach Hindi, a 
large number of people would take its advantage. The people 
wanted Swarajya and the way to that lay by way of adoption of 
Hindi as lingua franca. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi literally followed the foot-steps of 
Mahatma Gandhi and advocated use of Hindi. He went further by 
creating Swarajya Sahitya, for the permanent enrichment of 
Hindi literature. He carried further the work started by Acharya 
Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi and attempted national regeneration 
through Hindi as the lingua franca of the country. His was an era 
of political upheaval and he heralded the renaissance through 
Hindi in northern India. The poets and scholars made their 
literary works as the mirror of the society. He got created not only 
the literature of the hour but literary works for all times to come. 
The patriotic poems published by him are the real treasure of 
these stirring times. The vivid accounts published by him of 
Mahatma Gandhi and himself in jail are thrilling even today. 
The special numbers of the Pratap published every year are 
pieces of literature. His success consisted in harnessing the best 
available talents for writing Swarajya Sahitya, which is a source 
of inspiration to free India even today. 

Hindi Sahitya Sammelan 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, being an ardent propagator of 
Hindi, became a frequent visitor to the annual conventions of 
Hindi Sahitya Sammelan. In the issue of 14 January 1917, he 
wrote an article about the Hindi literature needed at that time. 
On 20 May, he published an article by Mahatma Gandhi, entitled 
Hindi Language and Nagri Script, 



Although the Pratap gave due publicity to the activities of the 
Sammelan, yet if anything went wrong at its conventions, it did 
not hesitate to criticise it. When some indecent poems were read 
at the Kavi Sammelan at its Annual Convention at Brindaban, he 
criticised that in the issue of the Pratap, dated 17 November 1925. 
Even when Gopal Saran Singh offered his clarification, the 
editor persisted in his condemnation of the indecent poem read 



Thanks to the persistent efforts of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
and blessings of Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian National 
Congress at its plenary session at Kanpur adopted Hindustani 
as the language for day-to-day work by the Working Committee, 
AICC and the Subject Committee. But there was great diver¬ 
gence of opinion on the subject. When Mrs. Annie Besant’s 
New India raised a furore against the decision and dubbed that 
as communal, the Pratap offered a convincing justification. 
And it cited the example of its contemporary Hindi Pracharak, 
(Madras), which was doing commendable work for the pro¬ 
pagation of Hindi in the South. 

During the period from 1925 to 1930, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi continued to propagate the use of Hindi. He delivered 
all his speeches in Hindi in the Legislative Council. As presi¬ 
dent of the U.P. P.C.C., he made it a point to get the proceed¬ 
ings recorded in Hindi. He maintained his liaison with the 
Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, so much so that he was elected presi¬ 
dent of the nineteenth session which met at Gorakhpur. In his 
presidential address, he promised to do his best to serve the cause 
of Hindi language and literature. He appreciated the role played 
by Hindi Sahitya Sammelan in the development of Hindi ter¬ 
minology so that Hindi could boast of its independent exis¬ 
tence. He reminded the audience that foreign domination inevit¬ 
ably led to an assault on the subjugated peoples’ mother-tongue 
and overburdening of its literature with foreign influences. Once 
the language of the people had been overpowered, their every¬ 
thing was won, and in such a situation creative literature was 



bound to be a casuality. This was what actually happened with 
the advent of the British and the super-imposition of English 
as the official language as well as medium of instruction. When 
English displaced Persian as the court language in northern 
India, Urdu became the common language. So Hindi was 
forced to face two-pronged opposition, one from English 
and the other from Urdu. 

After the adoption of Hindi as court language in U.P. in 
1900, herculean efforts were made to encourage creative litera¬ 
ture in Hindi. It was due to the efforts of patriotic writers that 
nationalistic literature emerged in the shape of prose, poetry, 
drama, short stories and novels. In this sphere he praised the 
work of Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, Pratap Naiain 
Mishra, Madhav Shukla and several others. 

In order to substantiate his point of view, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, cited the example of several countries of Europe, 
whose history was full of their struggle for the preservation of 
their own language. Almost all empires, Russian, German, 
Italian, Spanish, Austrian and French had imposed their lan¬ 
guage on the subjugated people. However, it was clear that the 
emancipation of the national languages could not be achieved 
overnight. He gave the specific instance of Gaelic language. 
The Irish people had forgotten their own language, and had 
begun to regai d English as such. But a day came when the Irish 
people woke up and fought for the rejuvenation of their own 
language. Eamon de Valera learnt the language from a cobbler 
because he honoured the study of mother-tongue even more 
than the freedom of the country. Freedom without the advance¬ 
ment of mother-tongue was a misnomer. Political domination 
in India always created barriers in the way of the study of Indian 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi in his address further elaborated 
that no other language in the world had succeeded in uplifting 
a community as Hindi had done in the past. It had a hoary past 
to fall back upon. It had before it the examples of Pali and 



Prakrit, through which Buddhism spread outside India and Sans¬ 
krit which dominated south-east Asia. Propagation of universal 
brotherhood was the greatest achievement of these languages. 
According to the speaker, as the worthy product of Prakrit 
and Sanskrit, Hindi was destined to play the same role. He 
visualised that the day was not far olf when Hindi would be one 
of the world languages and might be used in the League of 
Nations, or such other inter-continental forums. He spoke about 
the efforts made by him and others for evolving a common script 
and common language ever since the Lucknow session of the 
Congress in 1916. Mahatma Gandhi blessed that eiSbrt. He 
decried the efforts made in some quarters for adopting Roman 
Script for the lingua franca. It was admitted on all counts that 
the Devanagri script was not free from faults, but it was also a 
fact that the adoption of Roman script would obliterate country’s 
own independent existence. 

The eloquent presidential address delivered by Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi at the nineteenth session of the Hindi 
Sahitya Sammelan, the last that he could attend, was the cul¬ 
mination of his life-long efforts in the service of Hindi literature. 
The contribution that he made through his weekly, his own 
writings and his addresses at political conferences and last but 
not the least his address at the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan would 
ever remain memorable. He was a forceful writer himself and 
collection of his writings, including translations can serve as a 
model of Hindi literature. 

Although he was not a story-writer, yet the one he wrote in 
Hardoi jail, entitled Hathi ki Phansi, showed that he had the 
talent to do so. His translations of Victor Hugo’s— Ninety-three — 
Le Miserables, are outstanding. His own versions of Victor 
Hugo’s Mirror of State Revolution, Joan of Arc, Maxim Gorky’s 
Soldier of the Pen and Peter Kropotkin published by Onkar 
Shankar Vidyarthi in booklet form in 1976 are a rare example 
of his versatile talent for writing and ardent desire to enrich 
literature. He was always enthusiastic about getting the world 



classics translated into Hindi. Had he been spared long, he 
would have fulfilled his mission of life. 

As early as 1914, the Pratap press started publishing works 
of leading Hindi poets and writers. Maithili Saran Gupta’s 
famous poem Jaidrath-Vadha was one of the first to be printed 
and was sold for only eight annas per copy. In December issue 
another poem by him, Bharat Bharati, was published. The 
Pratap weekly announced through its columns that its primary 
aim was to propagate the use of Hindi by all possible means. 
Having been favoured by Mahatma Gandhi’s visit in 1917, the 
Pratap started publishing his articles in May issue and in July 
1917 published his Experiences in Jail, By October the paper was 
advertising sale of three other books on Swarajya priced at 
two to four annas only. These publications opened a new avenue 
for the Pratap press; and electrified the whole literary atmos¬ 
phere. A new wave of revolutionary fervour swept the country. 

By bringing out special numbers annually and on such occa¬ 
sions as the fortieth session of the Indian National Congress, 
the Pratap gave an opportunity to renowned Hindi writers to 
get their poems and articles published. Bal Krishna Sharma 
‘Navin’ was a promising newcomer, so much so that even for 
the Krishna Janmashtami number in 1924, his poem— Viplav 
Gan —a revolutionary song, was printed on the front page. 
The then editor of the Pratap, Bal Krishna Varma wrote on 
Puma Swadhinta Ka Prashna. The special number also carried a 
one-act play entitled Bali-Vedi by Pandeya Bechan Sharma 

The Pratap continued publication of Hindi books during the 
following years as well. 

Leadership in Editing 

The Pratap had assumed leadership of the Hindi journals 
and periodicals. By 1930 among the prominent Hindi news¬ 
papers could be counted the Sainik (Agra), the Pratap (Kanpur), 



the Lokmanya (Calcutta) and the Vishwamitra (Calcutta). In 
November 1926 Banarsidas Chaturvedi appealed to Hindi 
writers, through the columns of the Pratap to help him to bring 
out each year at least two books in Hindi, in the Men of Le tters 
series on the life and achievements of leading but aging Hindi 
authors on the pattern of English Men of Letters. He also pro¬ 
posed to bring out a history of editing in Hindi. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had thus succeeded in creating a 
spurt in the development of Hindi literature and journalism in 
particular. He was himself a very conscientious editor. He 
would not allow any matter to be published, without being 
properly scanned and edited. Whenever a new and unknown 
correspondent sent matter for publication, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi got his credentials verified, either through some 
member of his staff ora friend of his. It was only after that he 
published the matter. 

However, he was always ready to give opportunity to younger 
editors. Krishna Dutta Paliwal, Rama Shankar Awasthi, 
Dashrath Dwivedi and Bal Krishna Sharma ‘Navin’ were the 
shining products of this type of training and inspiration. Even 
his own son, Hari Shankar Vidyarthi, rose to the occasion 
and performed the task admirably for some time. 

The standard of editing attained by him, despite heavy odds, 
press censorship, ordinances and the like, won foi him admira¬ 
tion from all literary persons as well as journalists. Thanks to 
his efforts, Hindi literature became enriched. His services to 
the cause of Hindi literature, Hindi journalism and publication 
of Swaraj'ya Sahitya shall ever be remembered. In the 
words of the great poet Surya Kant Tripathi ‘Nirala’ editor 
of the Matwala (Calcutta), “He had a magnetic personality. 
He contributed a lot to Hindi. It is due to his forceful pen that 
the subjects of the Princely States were struggling for their 
emancipation. Ever since "Pratap' emerged, a revolution has 
taken place in Hindi world. The credit for infusing new political 



awareness in Hindi journalism goes to him. He is stubborn 
and fearless; he is a thorn in the way of tyranny and’a flower 
in the path of Peace, he is fighting Captain of the young and a 
true helper of the helpless poor.” 


Multifaced Activities 

THE ALL India Congress Committee met in Dellii in March 
1926 and decided to contest the ensuing general elections. Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi’s name was included in the list of 26 candi¬ 
dates for local council. There were some differences among the 
members of U.P. P.C.C. Despite internal feuds in the P.C.C., 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi maintained his hold on Kanpur 
politics and was elected to the U.P. Legislative Council from 
Kanpur. There he joined the Swarajist Party and worked shoulder 
to shoulder with Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant and Babu 
Sampurnanand. However, his election to the Council did not 
diminish his multifaced activities, on the other hand, they 
increased tenfold. He became more and more involved in the 
provincial as well as national politics. 

Hindu-Muslim Unity 

During the summer of 1927, the country was ablaze with 
Hindu-Muslim riots. The most serious riot took place in Lahore 
from 3-7 May. Similar riots took place in Bihar, Punjab, C.P. 
and U.P. The All India Congress Committee organised a con¬ 
ference on 27 October to evolve a formula for Hindu-Muslim 
unity. It empowered the AlCC to appoint a Committee in each 
province for propaganda work in this connection. The con¬ 
ference after full and frank discussions succeeded in evolving 
a formula which was adopted with suitable modifications by the 
AICC which met from 28 to 30 October at Calcutta. It adopted 
several important resolutions including the one on Punjab 
communal murders. Thus the work initiated at Bombay was 



carried further in the spirit of give-and-take, and solution of 
outstanding political, social and religious problems was 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi lent full support to unity efforts 
within the Congress as well as within the community. He wrote 
a stirring editorial in the Pratap, dated 6 November 1927 on 
the Calcutta Unity Conference. 

Trade Union Leader 

Interest of the mill-workers was always dear to Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi. He had already championed their cause 
on the floor of the U.P. Legislative Council. When it was deci¬ 
ded to hold the eighth session of the All-India Trade Union 
Congress at Gwaltoli, Kanpur, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
was elected as one of the delegates from the Kanpur Mazdoor 
Sabha. Other delegates were Dr. Murari Lai, Shaukat Usmani, 
Hariharnath Shastri, Dr. Raj Bahadur Gupta, Ramzan Ali, 
Suraj Prasad, Ganesh Prasad, Mannu Lai and Rajeshwar Prasad. 
The Mazdoor Sabha also forwarded five resolutions to the 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi enjoyed so much confidence 
of the Mazdoor Sabha that he was elected Chairman, Reception 
Committee; and Hariharnath Shastri acted as its Secretary. 
The Congress met on 26 November 1927. There were in all 
125 delegates; but the audience rose to 2,500. The session was 
attended by a number of foreign delegates viz., A. Purcell, 
Philip Spratt and Mardey Jones, M.P. They gave valuable 
support and guidance to their Indian counterparts. Dewan 
Chamanlal delivered the presidential address. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi welcoming the delegates observed 
that, though the greatness of the industrial city of Kanpur was 
due to its labourers, their condition was extremely unsatisfac- 



tory. He invited the distinguished visitors and delegates to pay 
a visit to the houses of the labourers which in Saklatvala’s 
language would in Europe be considered unfit even for brutes. 
Child mortality and incidence of tuberculosis was very high. 
The Municipal Board took little interest in the welfare of the 
mill-workers. Labour representation on the Board was only 
nominal. They had no representative in the Provincial Council 

The government had also turned a deaf ear to their repeated 
demands. It had even expressed inability to investigate the extent 
of unemployment in the province. Their demand for better 
housing conditions met the answer that, unless a scheme was 
put forward, nothing could be said. The Improvement Trust 
was equally unsympathetic. The mill-owners were oblivious of 
theii living conditions. They had unhygienic conditions in their 
factories and lighting airangements were poor. Little care was 
taken to avoid accidents. The government, he alleged, was 
antagonistic to the labour movement and its workers were spe¬ 
cial objects of the attention of the police; and he asserted that 
the proposed military police in the province was aimed at 
surveillance of the woikers’ and peasants’ organisation. Dewan 
Chamanlal commended T.C. Goswami, N.M. Joshi, V.V. Giri, 
H. Jhabwala and others who stood by the workers throughout 
the year. Ho also thanked the British and Russian labour organi¬ 
sations for the assistance they had given to the movement in 
India and asked the Congress to send their greetings to workers 
in China, Britain and Russia. 

On the second day, A. Purcell, M.P. delivered his address 
on behalf of the British Trade Union Congress. Thereafter 
Joseph Hallsworth, who had a great deal to do with international 
organisation of clerical employees and shop assistants, spoke. 
He was followed by Mardey Jones who brought greetings from 
the British ministers who, he said, were the finest body of fighters, 
labour had till then produced. 



Shapurji Saklatvala, M.P. member of the Communist Party 
of Great Britain also came to India and attended the AITUC 
session at Kanpur. He had a lengthy correspondence with 
Mahatma Gandhi and had characterised his theories about “the 
due share of labour” as reactionary. Besides Saklatvala, Shaukat 
Usmani of the Kanpur Bolshevik Conspiracy Case (1924) also 
attended the session. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi welcomed all 
with open arms although he dilfered with them in various ways. 
As he had been president of the Kanpur Mazdoor Sabha since 
1927, he performed his duties consciously. It was due to his in¬ 
spiration that a weekly bulletin entitled Mazdoor began to be 
published from Kanpur. 

Boycott of Simon Commission 

The political situation in the country was very fluid in 1927. 
With the appointment of the Simon Commission, an all-white 
committee, with no Indian as member thereon, it deteriorated 
further. The Madras session of the Indian National Congress, 
which met in December 1927, called upon the people to boycott 
it. A number of other organisations also joined in its boycott 
move. With the landing of the Commission in Bombay on 3 
Februry 1928, the boycott programme began. Hartal was orga¬ 
nised, according to a plan in a number of cities. In Lahore and 
Lucknow demonstrations resulted in baton charges and assault 
by the police. At the former place Lala Lajpat Rai was 
seriously injured in lathi-charge and later on succumbed to the 
injuries. The boycott at Lucknow was a great success' despite 
massive police arrangements. 

The boycott at Kanpur on 3 December 1928 was equally 
successful. Fifty thousand citizens, young and old, participated. 
Complete hartal was observed in the city. Students of local 
institutions boycotted their classes. They also took part in the 
black flag demonstrations. The Pratap in its issues on 3 and 9 
December congratulated all the participants and acclaimed-— 
Well Done Kanpur. 



All passed off peacefully at Kanpur and credit for the 
orderly arrangements went to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, who 
had taken half of the demonstrators to a public meeting in the 
city. The rest of the boycotters rejoined the demonstration 
at Nawabganj. The crowd on the road swelled to large numbers 
and it became risky foi the Commission members to pass through. 
So they had to be diverted to the route to the Agriculture College 

This showed that during 1928 Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi’s 
influence in the city of Kanpur was uppermost and thanks to 
the discipline he inculcated in the youth and volunteers, even 
the demonstrations were orderly as well as regulated. He set a 
high standard of public life. 

U.P. Political Conference 

In November 1928, the U.P. Political Conference was held 
at Jhansi under the presidentship of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. 
Amongst the most important decisions was the formation of a 
Famine Relief Committee, to go into the pitiable condition of 
famine-stricken people. Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant was its 
president a.nd Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi one of the members. 

The first meeting of the Famine Relief Committee was held 
in the office of the Pratap (Kanpur) on 6 November 1928. The 
Committee adopted the following resolution: 

‘‘The Commission is of the opinion that due to the damage 
caused to Rabi crop (1235 Fasli) due to the excessive rain and 
failure of Kharif (Fasli 1335) due to drought, majority of the 
parts of U.P. were in the grip of famine. In view of the dangers 
inherent in such a situation the Committee has resolved that if 
the U.P. Government do not grant remission of land revenue to 
the kisans at an early date, the poor peasants will be hit hard. 
Therefore, in order to mitigate the disastrous effects of the famine 
conditions, it deems remission of revenue as absolutely 



essential. It hopes that the peasants of the U.P. will receive 

By a second resolution, the Committee authorised its 
President, Gobind Ballabh Pant to correspond with the Revenue 
Member and the Finance Minister so that necessary orders 
might be issued to the commissioners and the district magistrates 
of the province. The Committee by yet another resolution 
requested the Convenor Secretary of the Committee, Sri Prakasa, 
might collect relevant data through Congress Committees and 
volunteers so that the kisans might not suffer due to the in¬ 
transigence of the patwaris and qanungos. 

The Committee further resolved that the Congress members 
in the Legislative Council might collect valuable information 
about the plight of the kisans in their constituencies and high¬ 
light their grievances so as to get immediate relief. The district 
magistrates were also to be requested to arrange for the supply 
of good quality seed as the poor kisans were finding that difficult 
to obtain. They were also to be directed to arrange fodder for 
the cattle. The Committee even went to the extent of urging the 
district boards to make provision in their budget for the relief 
of needy kisans and also to arrange work programmes on bundhs 
and roads to provide jobs. 

In this way the Famine Relief Committee at its very first 
meeting formulated a laudable programme for the amelioration 
of kisans in the province. 

Political Prisoners 

In December 1928 when the Jail Inquiry Committee in U.P. 
started its work, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi termed it as nothing 
but drama. Its chairman Justice Stuart had already sparked off 
opposition from Bar associations of Lucknow, Rae Bareli and 
other places, during his term of office, so he could not inspire 
confidence. The two other members Jagat Narain Mulla and 



Khan Bahadur Hafiz Hidayat Hussain were not expected to 
contribute much. Therefore, the Congress members of the U.P. 
Legislative Council, the Nationalist Party and the U.P. P.C.C. 
had all decided to boycott its proceedings. Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi had in the House voiced his opposition to that and 
when its report was published he commented upon that. 

During 1929 the Lahore Conspiracy case prisoners and their 
plight in jail had attracted great attention. Due to bad treatment 
meted out to them, they went on hunger-strike. Many political 
prisoners in othei jails in the Punjab and United Provinces also 
went on sympathetic hunger-strike. The situation became alarm¬ 
ing. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi visited Lahore on 25 July and 
met the prisoners in the Central and Borstal jails. He talked to 
Sardar Bhagat Singh at length, who told him that he wanted 
only some rights for the political prisoners. The Government 
had not only deprived them of their freedom, but also kept them 
along with thieves, rogues and robbers. No books were allowed 
to them. They were given dirty and unpalatable food. When they 
resorted to hungrer-strike^ they were forcibly fed; and thus 
compelled to die by inches. Bhagat Singh told him that they had 
no trust in the jail authorities who had promised to give them 
special diet as advised by the doctors. He condemned the attempt 
to artificially feed them by forcing milk through the tubes in 
the nose. He exclaimed that they did not worry if death came to 
them, as they had the resolve to die, while opposing the foolish 
and discriminatory practice of giving the Europeans and non- 
Indian prisoners soft treatment. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi also talked to Batukeshwar Dutt 
and along with Dr. Gopi Chand Bhargava, Srimati Parvati Devi 
and Sardar Kishan Singh went to see the prisoners in the Borstal 
jail. There Jatindra Nath Das was found lying in a ciitical 
condition. He anxiously tried to get their fast ended as he knew 
some of them from their boyhood; and he was clear in his mind 
that the youthful prisoners were fighting for a cause. Explaining 
his stand he said, “We had cried hoarse for award of facilities 



to political prisoners, but we had never fought for removal of 
grievances of political prisoners undergoing long-term sentences. 
Even Martial Law prisoners like late Harkishen had been set 
free but persons like Ratan Chand were still rotting in jail.” He 
commented further, ‘‘I do not lend credence to offences of violent 
nature, levied on these youths, nor support that. I am a votary 
of non-violence, but those who have the slightest imagination 
should not have any doubts in their minds. These youths are 
now hovering between life and death due to some heinous or 
violent crime. Impressed by their stubborn resolve, we should 
expect the Government to shed their indifference to their plight 
and we should all raise a concerted voice against such malpractices 
against political prisoners.” 

In an editorial dated 18 August 1929, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi highlighted the plight of political prisoners, who were 
languishing in the prisons. He asserted that fasting unto death 
was equally painful, in comparison to hanging by the noose till 
one was dead. The then Government was accused by him of 
having discriminated between the various types of prisoners. As 
a result of criticism all around, on 2 September 1929, a Jail 
Enquiry Committee was appointed and it made some recommen¬ 
dations, allowing the political prisoners use of a cot, a table, a 
chair, newspapers and lights. Consequently Sardar Bhagat 
Singh and his comrades except, Jatin Das, abandoned the strike. 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, however, did not feel satisfied, so 
he continued his three-pronged tirade against the Government 
for discriminatory treatment of political prisoners. He utilised 
the Congress forum; the press and the U.P. Legislative Council 
for voicing their genuine grievances. 

On 4 August 1929, to observe Political Prisoners’ Day, a 
public meeting was organised at Kanpur under the chairmanship 
of Narain Prasad Arora. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was the 
principal speaker. The death of Jatindra Nath Das on 13 Sep¬ 
tember 1929 on the 64th day of his hunger-strike, concentrated 
the country’s attention on the treatment of political prisoners. 



The All-India Congress Committee at its meeting held at 
Allahabad on 26 and 27 July 1929 had also passed two resolu¬ 
tions, relating to the political prisoners jailed in connection with 
the Assembly Bomb cases and Lahore Conspiracy Case. A 
piquant situation arose when at the AICC meeting Chatwai 
tabled two resolutions appreciating the patriotic spirit of Bhagat 
Singh and Dutt and sympathising with them in their hardships 
which they had been forced to undergo under an alien govern¬ 
ment. The President of the Congress, Pandit Motilal Nehru 
disallowed them as being contrary to the creed of non-violence 
of the Congress. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi did not appreciate the stand taken 
by the Congress President in declaring the two resolutions as 
illegal. According to him the sacrifices undergone by the two 
revolutionaries for the redress of grievances of the political 
prisoners were hundred per cent praiseworthy, respectful and 
worth emulating. So the Congress should have adopted those 
two resolutions of Chatwai. These views were recorded in an 
editorial in the Pratap, dated 7 August 1929. 

Secretary Congress Committee Kanpur 

Despite differences with the Congress President on some 
issues, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi remained a true votary of the 
Congress creed and its constructive programme. In January 
1929, he exhorted the people of Kanpur to recapitulate what 
they had done to implement the programme adopted at the 
Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress in December 
1928. By a special resolution the following ten-point programme 
was adopted viz., (i) prohibition, boycott of liquor shops; (ii) 
inside and outside the legislatures, methods suited to respective 
environments were to be adopted to bring about boycott of 
foreign cloth by advocating and stimulating production and 
adoption of hand-spun and hand-woven Khadi; (iii) specific 
grievances to be redressed by non-violent action, as was done 
at Bardoli, (iv) members of legislatures returned on the Congress 



ticket were to devote the bulk of their time to the constructive 
work settled from time to time by the Congress Committee, 
(v) Congress organisation was to be perfected by enlisting 
members and enforcing stricter discipline; (vi) measures were to 
be taken for the welfare of women and to encourage them to 
take part in nation-building; (vii) members to rid the country of 
social abuses; (viii) removal of untouchability and rendering 
help to the so-called untouchables to better their conditions; 
(ix) volunteers to take up work amongst the city labourers and 
village reconstruction in addition to what was being done 
through the spinning wheel and khadi (x) such other work as 
might be deemed advisable in order to advance nation-building, 
in all its departments and in order to enable the Congress to 
secure the cooperation in the national elfort of all people engaged 
in different pursuits. 

In order to push ahead the constructive programme at 
Kanpur, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi drew the attention of political 
workers to Mahatma Gandhi’s article published in the Pratap 
(Kanpur). He exhorted them to propagate prohibition, removal 
of utouchability, women-uplift, boycott of foreign goods, use of 
khadi and uplift of the downtrodden. Each one was requested 
to enrol at least five more members and get ready to observe 
Swarajya Day on 10 March 1929 by taking out processions in 
accordance with the directions of the Congress High Command. 
Sundays subsequent to 10 March were also to be celebrated 
throughout the country likewise. As per directions Sunday pro¬ 
grammes were observed in Kanpur meticulously. The Hindustani 
Seva Dal also succeeded beyond expectations in organizing a 
national flag day every month. The monthly flag unfurling 
became very popular. 

President of U.P. Political Conference 

The next session was held at Farukhabad in 1929. Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi was elected its President. In his eloquent 
address he said that they had to ponder specially on two resolu- 



tions, viz., (i) proposal to hold an All-Parties Convention and 
(ii) to implement the constructive programme by the end of the 
year. He reminded the audience that three months had already 
passed and only nine months were left to achieve the target. 
There was every possibility that the Indian National Congress, 
by the end of the year, might with one voice declare its goal as 
complete independence. He firmly believed that England would 
never give India even Dominion Status because that would 
adversely affect the interests of U.K. They should not have faith 
in its empty promises. England would by itself never give India 
its independence. 

He further exhorted the countrymen to prepare themselves 
for non-violent struggle. They should do openly whatever they 
were asked to do. They should gather so much strength that 
they only forged ahead and did not falter. They should not be 
cowed down by arrests and governmental intimidation. The 
British Empire might one day fall like a ripe fruit or die a natural 
death of an old man. As it had to vanish, the people should 
prepare to shoulder the responsibilities of independent India. 
The workers were getting enthusiastic about their rights and 
demands. They could not brook injustice any longer. 

Kisans’ Plight 

The most significant achievement of Farukhabad session was 
adoption of economic resolution. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
accordingly prepared a comprehensive questionnaire for U.P. 
kisans. Their distress had been hightened by the failure of the 
crops. There was not even enough grain to fill their own bellies 
and feed their children. He called for replies regarding their 
plight and the remedial measures by 15 June 1929 so that he 
could place the hard facts and make use of the data thus col¬ 
lected in the U.P. Legislative Council scheduled to meet at 
Nainital from 24 June. He used the information thus collected 
while speaking on the subject in the Council. 


Organizational Work 

Apart from directing the affairs of the U.P. P.C.C. as its 
President, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi kept himself busy at all 
levels. He had activised the field workers receiving training at 
the Ashram at Narwal (district Kanpur) and exhorted them to 
spread as members of the Seva Dal into the villages. In order 
to see that the programme of constructive work was completed 
in time, he organised the U.P. Youth Wing of the Congress at 
Lucknow from 23 June. It was decided to hold U.P. Yuvak 
Sangh Conference again at Lucknow from 18 August. 

The items to be discussed at the proposed conference in¬ 
cluded the plight of kisans and the Nehru Report which was to 
be accepted by 31 December 1929. The youth was exhorted to rise 
to the occasion and be ready to make sacrifices for the country’s 
struggle for independence. It was also envisaged that the various 
youth organizations in the province, viz., Yuvak Sangh, 
Hindustani Seva Dal, Vidyarthi Sangh, Sant Dal and Sewa 
Samitis would pool in their resources and work together. All 
were to unite and form a Workers’ Corps and implement the 
common programme, e.g., establishment of Labour Unions; 
Kisan Sanghs; Village Organzations; Kisan Aid Committees 
and Boycott of Foreign Goods Committees. 

The U.P. P.C.C. undei his stewardship was functioning 
satisfactorily. Its accounts had been properly audited and found 
in order. The work of thirtyfour Zila Congress Committees was 
examined. Ten thousand Congress members were enrolled. 
Mohan Lai Saksena was deputed to tour Awadh in two months. 
Sub-Committees responsible for boycott of foreign goods and 
enforcement of prohibition were found to be working satis¬ 

Independence Day 

The Congress Working Committee, which met on 26 January 
1930, after the Lahore session, passed a resolution for adoption 



by public meetings all over the country, on Puma Swarajya — 
Independence Day, i.e., Sunday, 26 January 1930. On that 
auspicious day, the Indian people were to assert their inalienable 
right to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and 
have the necessities of life so that they might have full opportuni¬ 
ties of growth. They were to resolve to carry out the Congress 
instructions issued from time to time for the purpose of establish¬ 
ing Puma Swarajya. 

It was also stated that the civil disobedience was to be in¬ 
itiated and controlled by those who believed in non-violence for 
the purpose of achieving Puma Swarajya as an article of faith. 
It welcomed the proposal of Mahatma Gandhi and authorised 
him and those working under him to start civil disobedience. 
If the leaders were arrested, those who were left behind and had 
the spirit of sacrifice and service in them were to carry on the 
Congress organisation and guide the movement to the best of 
their ability. The All-India, Congress Committee, which met at 
Ahmedabad on 21 March 1930, endorsed the above resolution 
of the Working Committee, concerning the civil disobedience. 
It took note of the Dandi March led by Mahatma Gandhi on 
12 March 1930, in pursuit of his plan for civil disobedience and 
to start salt satyagraha campaign from 6 April. Soon after the 
campaign spread all over the country. The U.P.P.C.C. under 
the Presidentship of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi launched a 
vigorous satyagraha campaign. 




THE LATTER half of the year 1929 was dominated by 
Mahatma Gandhi’s tour and the ensuing session of the Indian 
National Congress at Lahore. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was 
elected piesident at the U.P.P.C.C. meeting at Allahabad on 
10 November. By a special resolution on political prisoners, the 
Committee expressed regret that the promises to ameliorate 
their condition by the governments concerned had not been 
fulfilled, specially in respect of Lahore Conspiracy Case prisoners. 
As the British Government had failed to grant Dominion Status 
to India by the due date, the Committee recorded that the All 
India Congress Committee at Lahore might decide to launch 
struggle for independence. The resolution proposed by Mohan 
Lai Saksena was supported by Pandit Motilal Nehru and un¬ 
animously approved. This was the most momentous decision 
taken by the U.P.P.C.C. under the presidentship of Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi. 

Amongst other important resolutions adopted at the meeting 
were, setting of Political Prisoners’ Aid Committee with Pandit 
Motilal Nehru as president and Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi as 
its secretary, call to peasants of U.P. to be ready for satyagraha, 
readiness to break salt laws and boycott of Legislatures. 

Lahore Congress and After 

In accordance with the decisions arrived at Lahore, the 
following resolution was issued on behalf of the Working Commi- 



ttee for adoption by public meetings all over the country, on 
Puma Swarajya Day, 26 January 1930: “We believe that it is 
the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people, 
to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have 
full opportunities of growth. We believe also that if any govern¬ 
ment deprives a people of these rights and oppresses them, the 
people have a further right to alter it or abolish it. The British 
Government in India has not only deprived the Indian people 
of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the 
masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally, 
and spiritually. We believe therefore that India must sever the 
British connection and attain Puma Swarajya or complete 
independence...” The declaration of independence as India’s 
creed resounded all over the world wherever Indians were living. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi through the columns of the 
Pratap dated 5 January 1930 announced that independence day 
was to be celebrated on 26 January. Ideal of Puma Swarajya 
was to be proclaimed and independence pledge taken by all. 
Flag hoisting was to be done at 8.00 a.m. and processions were 
to be taken out thereafter. A solemn pledge ‘to carry out the 
Congress instructions issued from time to time for the purpose 
of establishing Puma Swarajya' was to be taken. In the words 
of Pandit Nehru, the die had been cast and there was no alter¬ 
native for India but to fight on till independence was achieved. 

Consequently at Kanpur the day was celebrated with un¬ 
precedented enthusiasm. In the afternoon a huge procession, 
led by Bal Krishna Sharma, was taken out from the Shradhanand 
Park. It comprised of fifty thousand people and Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, Dr. Murari Lai, Narain Prasad Arora, Dr. Jawahar 
Lai Rohatgi and Maulana Hasrat Mohani supervised various 
sections of the procession. In the evening there was a mass meet¬ 
ing at Shradhanand Park when resolutions were adopted and 
the pledge taken. 



U.P. P.C.C. Meeting at Allahabad 

The Congress Working Committee at its meeting held at 
Sabarmati, on 14 February 1930, resolved that civil disobedience 
was to be initiated and contioiled by those who believed in non¬ 
violence for the purpose of achieving Puma Swarajya, as an 
article of faith. It welcomed the proposal of Mahatma Gandhi 
and authorised him and those working with him to start civil 
disobedience as and when they desired and in the manner and 
to the extent they decided. 

The U.P. P.C.C. at its meeting held on 26 February 1930, 
under the presidentship of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi also 
decided to recommend to the Congress Working Committee that 
Mahatma Gandhi be authorised to start civil disobedience 
movement and U.P. P.C.C. would lend him utmost support and 
cooperation. The Council further authorised the Executive 
Committee to decide as to when and how the civil disobedience 
movement in the U.P. was to be started so that the mass move¬ 
ment might be strengthened. Another important resolution 
concerning the economic programme for the nation was moved 
by Pandit Nehru, and was referred to its Council for consideration. 

Satyagraha in U.P. 

It had already been decided that the Conference would be 
held at Kanpur in April 1930. Preparations were afoot in every 
district of the province for launching civil disobedience in U.P. 
By first week of April, the satyagraha had started in the pro¬ 
vince. The President of the Congress, Jawaharlal Nehru was 
arrested for disobedience of the salt laws at Allahabad on 14 
April and many other arrests took place. At Kanpur G.G. Jog 
led the satyagrahis on 5 April and prepared salt. An audience of 
fifteen thousand was addressed by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. 
Agitation was intensified. Harihar Nath Sastri was arrested on 
9 April and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. On 12 April, 



Bal Krishna Sharma was arrested and awarded six months’ 

On 12 April 1930, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi on behalf of 
the Provincial Satyagraha Committee issued an appeal to the 
satyagrahis to remain peaceful and disciplined. Collection of 
too many people was to be avoided. Satyagraha in batches by 
smaller number of volunteers, in a disciplined manner, was to 
prove more effective. This appeal was based on the decisions 
arrived at earlier by the U.P. Satyagraha Committee held at 
Rae Bareli under the Presidentship of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. 
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sri Prakasa and Rafi Ahmad Kidwai 
were also present at this meeting. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
as a true freedom fighter, was in the fittest position to issue an 
appeal to all satyagrahis in the province. The same was published 
by the Pratap, dated 20 April 1930. 

The U.P. P.C.C. met again on 18 April i.e., on the eve of the 
Political Conference and passed important resolutions on edu¬ 
cational camps where satyagrahis were to be trained, salt satya¬ 
graha, boycott of foreign cloth and picktting at liquor shops. 

Pandit Motilal Nehru and Madan Mohan Malaviya also 
came to Kanpur. Some people wanted to postpone action on the 
boycott situation. But the U.P. P.C.C. opposed any compromise. 
On the other hand the president laid down instructions as to how 
the work was to be carried on with full vigour. In order to make 
salt satyagraha effective, it was deemed essential that satyagrahis 
should move towards the village and break salt law there. He 
exhorted the women to also come forward, and directed all units 
to send reports of satyagraha campaigns and breaking of salt 
laws to the president at the Pratap office, Kanpur. These reso¬ 
lutions along with his appeal were published in the issue of the 
Pratap, dated 27 April 1930 under the authority of Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi. Although information reached Pratap office 
from all over the province, yet good many telegrams, as well 
as information letters were withheld by the police. The editor 
informed and cautioned the public against that. 


In order to highlight the significance of the breaking of the 
salt law, the editor of the Pratap wrote a most thought-provoking 
editorial, entitled End of the Salt Laws, It proclaimed that the 
salt law then remained only in the Statute Book, it had no 
relevance in the country. Even preparation of salt from sea water 
or earth had become a crime. Although the maximum punish¬ 
ment that could be awarded was only six months, other clauses 
of the Indian Penal Code could also be invoked to award punish¬ 
ments upto two or three years. Crime was one, but punishments 
awarded could be dilferent. It appeared to the editor that perhaps 
the trying magistrates had taken intoxicant {bhang). But the 
then official records show that the U.P. Government had made 
meticulous preparations to award deterrent punishments. 

The districts where the demonstrations had been most serious 
were Agra, Allahabad, Rae Bareli, Kanpur, Lucknow, Banaras 
and Meerut. Politicians and agitators concentrated mostly at 
the district headquarters. Only Rae Bareli was an exception, as 
according to the police report that district had been “picked 
out by the Provincial Congress Committee” of which Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi was the president, “as the chief centre for 
agitation”. This was attributed to the discontent that prevailed 
among the tenants of that district against the landholders. 

Although salt manufactured hastily was not of marketable 
value, yet for the special circumstances in which that was made, 
it fetched fancy prices at some of the demonstration centres. U.P. 
Government’s policy was to confiscate illicit salt and procecute 
the leading offenders and to press for the maximum sentence of 
six months’ imprisonment under the salt act. But a number of 
prominent leaders were prosecuted under Section U7, Indian 
Penal Code under which the maximum sentence was three years’ 
imprisonment. Till 21 April 1930, Mohan Lai Saksena, 
Sampurnanand and Chaudhri Raghubir Narayan Singh had 
been sentenced to eighteen months’ rigorous imprisonment. 
Sampurnanand was awarded a fine of Rs. 200 in addition to 
the above sentence. 



In spite of all the preparations for punishment by the U.P. 
government, the Political Conference was held at Kanpur from 
21 April 1930. The U.P. P.C.C. also met at Kanpur. Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi played a leading part and the government 
took serious note of that. In an editorial after giving full details 
of its proceedings he exclaimed that the struggle for freedom 
was ‘a cold war’. The world had witnessed bloody wars, but at 
that ti’me it was witnessing for the first time the cold war laun¬ 
ched by Mahatma Gandhi. At places people had behaved 
with commendable discipline and exemplary calm. The govern¬ 
ment was trying to revive peace committees. The then Governor 
Sir Malcolm Hailey was himself touring the districts, but the 
tempo of satyagraha was mounting. Boycott of foreign cloth 
was in full swing. 

According to a detailed note prepared by Dodd, the Inspector 
General of Police, U.P., after an extensive tour of the districts, 
it was revealed that the wave of national enthusiasm was wide¬ 
spread but confined to only a small class. Due to an aftermath 
of arrests and resistance to authority in the shape of breaking 
of salt laws, there could be no perfect peace. The chief visible 
indication of the extent to which the Congress creed had per¬ 
meated a town or area was evident from the number of Gandhi 
caps and more particularly of national flags. The latter was 
the more important emblem. 

It was, however, recorded that by and large, the enthusiasm 
for the Congress and the satyagraha launched by it, in cities, 
apart from picketing of schools, was subsiding considerably. 
According to Dodd, the one exception was Kanpur, where un¬ 
doubtedly the movement was “more firmly established than in 
any other city in the province”. He stated, “In fact, the situa¬ 
tion in Cawnpore, in my opinion, is foreign to the general 
situation in the United Provinces.” This was indeed a signal 
tribute to the great influence wielded by Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi in his home-town and district. 



Besides tl^ above, Dodd also indicated, that, the Congress 
had directed its attention more to the rural areas. Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi as dictator of satyagraha had made a special 
thrust in the direction. It was further recorded by the Inspector 
General of Police that “there can be no question however that 
despite the fact that practically all the leaders both at the head¬ 
quarters and in the towns are in jail, the organization is still 
good, discipline much better than could have been expected, 
and in taking action there is still considerable determination, 
courage is lacking and a very little firmness is required to deal 
with any manoeuvre, those responsible for the movement 

The report further paid a glowing tribute to the large-scale 
participation of women in the civil disobedience movement. 
There was no doubt that “but for them the movement would 
never” have gained the force it had gathered. The Indian woman 
was then struggling for domestic and national liberty; and was 
responsible for “arousing that unexpected support from among 
practically all educated Hindus throughout the province”. 
This unusual tribute coming from the highest police official of 
the U.P. was due to the great influence of Mahatma Gandhi 
and to the detailed instructions issued by the U.P. Satyagraha 
Committee, under the presidentship of Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi. Wherever he went, there were shouts of Gandhi Ki 
Jai and Bande Matram. 

Dodd in his report had repeatedly mentioned that, when 
he passed through Kanpur again, there was ample evidence 
of Congress influence. Practically all ekkas carried national 
flags. Of all the places visited by him, the finest display of flags 
was seen by him in Unnao, a nearby district of Kanpur. This 
was the off-shoot of the National Week celebrated in Kanpur, 
with great enthusiasm. 



Prisoners’ Aid Society 

When Government did not release political prisoners by 
31 December, an organization known as U.P. Political Workers’ 
Family Aid Society was formed at the Pratap office. Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi had become its secretary. Realising the hard¬ 
ships that family members of the prisoners might face, he issued 
an appeal for funds. Persons sympathetic to the cause could 
enrol as members of the Aid Society on payment of rupees six 
per annum. However, members, whose income exceeded rupees 
six hundred per annum, could donate ten per cent of their 
income, upto a maximum of Rs. 300/- per annum. The govern¬ 
ing body of the Aid Society included Pandit Motilal Nehru, 
Jawaharlal Nehru and eight others. Dr. Kailash Nath Katju 
became its treasurer. By May 1930 over 106 members had 
been enrolled and subscriptions collected to the tune of Rs. 522/-. 
At an important meeting held on 23 May 1930 at Allahabad, 
the U.P. Congress Executive Committee decided to raise a fund 
of rupees one lakh for carrying on Congress work in the pro¬ 
vince. A small committee consisting of the president, Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi, Shiva Prasad Gupta and Krishna Kant 
Malaviya, was appointed to make collections. The money was 
to be spent on various purposes including the welfare of 
political sufferers. 

Arrest and Jail Life 

Having piloted the satyagraha successfully throughout U.P. 
Ganesh Shamkar Vidyarthi was arrested on 25 May 1930, in the 
morning at the Queen’s Memorial Gardens. He was charged 
under Section 117, Indian Penal Code, and the same da.y he was 
sentenced to one year’s rigorous imprisonment. As soon as the 
news of his arrest reached the public, the principal bazaars 
were closed and hartal observed. About 4.00 p.m. a procession 
was taken out which terminated at Shradhanand Park where 
speeches were delivered on the political situation. A peaceful 



and calm atmosphere prevailed as desired by Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi. Mohan Lai Saksena and others filed appeal in the 
High Court and got their sentences reduced. But Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi, when requested to file an appeal, refused 
to oblige his friends and admirers. He regarded it as derogatory 
to his self-respect and sense of pride as a satyagrahi. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was very frank and considerate 
with his children. Despite hardships and adverse circumstances 
he kept them in good cheer. The letter he wrote to his daughter, 
from the jail, throws light on his family life. It states that she 
should convey to her mother that the latter need not worry about 
him, he was getting on well in jail. His health was also good, 
and she should not worry on that account. With God’s blessings 
he hoped to return home from the prison, hale and hearty. 

He further wrote,.the sufferings they were undergoing 

at that time, were akin to those which thousands of other families 
were also passing through. They were all performing an act of 
faith”. According to him all such people should console them¬ 
selves with the thought that whatever difficulties they were facing, 
were not an act of villainy. Due to their sacrifices, God was 
certain to benefit all. After such evil days, cheerful ones would 
follow. All should have “faith in God and religion”. 

In another letter he gave a description of his life in the jail. 
Due to the rains all prisoners were put to trouble as they had 
to remain confined to the barracks. Because of rains, they 
could not take a stroll in the compound and were deprived of 
the privilege allowed to them even in the jail. He compared the 
life of the prisoners with that of burqa clad ladies of well-to-do 

While Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was in Hardoi jail, the 
finances of the family worsened. His sons and daughters were 
studying. There were four daughters, and the eldest was of 
marriageable age. His wife was mostly on sick bed. Old mother 
was languishing. But Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi^ as a great 



freedom fighter, had plunged with others into the satyagraha 

On 25 January, the Viceroy unconditionally released 
Mahatma Gandhi as well as members of the Congress Working 
Committee. By 26 January all members, including interim 
ones, were set free. During February prolonged negotiations 
took place between Mahatma Gandhi and the Viceroy. As a 
result, a 21-point programme, commonly known as Gandhi- 
Irwin Pact, was signed on 5 March. One of the main points of 
the Pact was withdrawal of the Civil Disobedience Movement 
and release of all Civil Disobedience Movement prisoners. 

Consequently Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was released on 
10 March 1931, although his term of imprisonment was to end 
on 25 May. After his release from jail, he was accorded a tumul¬ 
tous welcome at Kanpur. 

On arrival at Kanpur he learnt that the plenary session 
of the All India National Congress was scheduled to meet at 
Karachi in March 1931 under the presidentship of Vallabhbhai 
Patel. In accordance with the directions of the Working Commit¬ 
tee, picketing of foreign cloth was to be intensified, but there 
was no civil disobedience. Preparations began to send dele¬ 
gates to the Karachi session. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was 
to go there, but destiny willed otherwise. 


Tragic End 

WHILE THE preparations were afoot for holding the plenary 
session of the Indian National Congress at Karachi, two other 
events rocked the whole nation. One of them took place at 
Allahabad on the morning of 27 February 1931, in which 
Chandra Sekhar Azad, leader of the Hindustan Socialist 
Republican Association, was shot dead in an encounter 
with the police. The other was execution of Bhagat 
Singh, Sukhdev and Shivram Rajguru at Lahore on 23 
March 1931, despite countrywide protests and appeal for 
clemency. They became martyrs for the cause of India’s 

The execution of Bhagat Singh and his colleagues sent a 
wave of indignation all over the country. The three heroes as¬ 
cended the scaffold smilingly. They were the proud sons of 
Mother India. They became immortal martyrs. Bhagat Singh 
was applauded the most. Hundreds of poems were written 
in his honour, he was the lion-hearted hero who frenzied for 
freedom. He upheld the honour of the country at the cost of 
his life. It was decided to observe hartal all over the coun¬ 
try. The Indian National Congress at Karachi passed a resolution 
placing on record “its admiration of the bravery and sacrifice 
of the late Sardar Bhagat Singh and his comrades Sriyuts 
Sukhdev and Rajguru’’ and grieved with the bereaved 
families the loss of their lives. In its opinion the triple execu¬ 
tion was an act of wanton vengeance and was a deliberate 
flouting of the unanimous demand of the nation for 



Hartal at Kanpur 

Immediately on the receipt of the tragic news of the execu¬ 
tions at Lahore, the town Congress Committee resolved that 
there would be hartal at Kanpur on 24 March. The Hindu 
shopkeepers closed their shops instantaneously; and some of the 
Muslim shops were nominaJly picketed. But due to prevailing 
tension between the two communities in the city, undesirable 
elements took a.dvantage of the situation. 

According to a written statement filed before the official 
enquiry committee by Lala Dewan Chand, Principal, D.A.V. 
College, Kanpur, the disorders that occurred in the afternoon 
of 24 March were “not due to religious fanaticism, intolerance 
or bigotry”. In his view the two dominant ideas in the collective 
life of Kanpur were Civil Disobedience Movement and the 
Tanzeem. They were not exactly antagonistic. One was anti¬ 
government and the other was anti-Hindu. Hariharnath Shastri 
also stated before the Congress Enquiry Committee that some 
of the Muslim leaders’ speeches were anti-Congress. The 
Tanzeem volunteers had been active in Kanpur and Lucknow 
since 12 August 1930. As the authorities remained indifferent to 
such activities, the observance of hartal led to immediate break¬ 
down of law and order. 

When tension was mounting and news of the possible exe¬ 
cution of Bhagat Singh and others was trickling in, the police 
authorities became apprehensive and requested Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi to sta.y back at Kanpur and not to go to Karachi. 
But the authorities did not take strong precautionary measures 
against undesirable elements. According to the statement of the 
District Magistrate, Kanpur, made before the Commission of 
Enquiry he took the hartal as an anti-government demonstra¬ 
tion. But in his confidential communication to the Commis¬ 
sioner, Allahabad Division, he wrote on 21 March 1931 that 
“it was possible there would be less anti-government agitation 
and possibly mere communal trouble on account of the bad 



feeling created by the riots in Banaras, Mirzapur and Agra”. 
Despite such precedents, the district authorities only banked 
upon the Congressmen and their leaders to control the situation 
which they themselves created due to the Lahore executions. 

Recounting the immediate causes of the riots that followed 
observance of hartal the Commission of Enquiry recorded that 
on 24 March, in the afternoon, when trouble started at about 
1.30 p.m. and disorder as well as conflict arose, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, the most prominent of all the Congress leaders, who 
happened to pass that way, saw looting of shops and tried to stop 
that. The District Magistrate, on hearing of the news of rioting 
down Meston Road way, only despatched two deputy magistrates 
to the spot. But by the time the frenzy of the mob had considera¬ 
bly increased. The Meston Road temple and the Chauk Bazaza 
mosque had both been set on fire about this time, despite the 
magistrates being on duty. The situation grew worse between 4 
and 5.00 p.m. on 24 March. Small parties collected in the lanes 
and rioting in a big way began at the Meston Road. In the morn¬ 
ing of 25 March, terrible atrocities were committed in the Bengali 
Mohal at a comparatively short distance from Meston Road. 
When the news of this was conveyed to Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, he hurried to the spot. 

Lone Figure 

Despite heavy odds, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, having 
stayed back from the Congress session at Karachi, stood up. 
He was the only person who could command some moral autho¬ 
rity and exercise some restraining influence, on both Hindus and 
Muslims. Although risks were involved he remained firm and 
fearless in the performance of his duty. This is corroborated 
by a letter written by him, probably his last, to a young lady in 
reply to a letter from her, offering assistance in establishing peace. 
He wrote in the forenoon of 25 March 1931 from the Pratap 



“Honoured Sister, 

My respectful namaskars! I remember you well. I think I saw 
you in Calcutta ten years back. You were very young then. The 
condition of the city is undoubtedly very bad. We are trying for 
peace. Your desire to work for peace even at the sacrifice of 
your life is very praiseworthy. But at the present I cannot ask 
you to come out. Not one of the Muslim leaders is stepping for¬ 
ward. The attitude of the police is very condenmable .” 

According to him, had the police acted firmly and given him 
a little help, the riot would have subsided on 24 March, but the 
authorities wanted the people to settle among themselves. So 
they stood by, watching unconcerned, while temples and mosques 
were burnt, people beaten and shops looted. He was categorical 
that he had seen the indifference of the police with his own eyes. 
Under such circumstances he was fully justified in advising the 
lady not to come forward, but he should have taken care of 
himself also. 

Iqbal Krishna Kapoor, who described the closing scenes, 
before the enquiry committee, confirmed that Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was thoroughly disgusted with the behaviour of the 
police on 24 March. The local officials, although unable to restore 
confidence themselves, were reluctant to take Congressmen’s 
help to stem the tide of loot and arson. The City Kotwal was 
equally dilly-dallying. Even when the Superintendent of Police 
was apprised of the situation, he did not believe in the complaints 
against the behaviour of the police. The instance of 1927 riots 
was also cited when Munro, the District Magistrate, had made 
arrests in the very beginning, but Ganesh Shankai Vidyarthi’s 
pleadings in March 1931 went unheaded. 

The same sorry tale was narrated by Taqi Ahmad, Deputy 
Collector, who accompanied by only a few constables arrived 
on the spot. By that time the situation had worsened in the 
Etawah Bazaar. When Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi reached that 
spot, he discovered that a Hindu, aged about thirty, had pro- 



tected the lives of about thirty Muslim men, women and children 
from the madness of the rioters. He was then requested by 
Kanahya Lai to rush to the rescue of Hindus in certain Muslim 
quarters. But he stayed back in Etawah Bazaar and gave priority 
to transportation of victims by lorry to a hospital. Although the 
Deputy Collector on duty promised to provide armed escort, 
yet at the time of departure he could not keep his promise. The 
victims had to be transported without escort. 

In the meantime, the crowd from Etawah Bazaa.r had moved 
towards Bengali Mohal and perpetrated the most horrible atro¬ 
cities there. When Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi reached there, he 
started rescuing victims from the houses that had been set on 
fire. The rescued Muslims were sent to Misri Bazaar and Ram 
Narain Bazaar and were looked after. According to an eye¬ 
witness account when the rescue lorry had left Naya Chowk, 
Ganesh Shankar met the rowdies. When he reached Chaubey 
Gola, after passing through Misri Bazaar and Machchli Bazaar, 
even the two constables accompanying him returned towards 
Naya Chowk. He was then left with only a few volunteers. Even 
the person in the lorry transporting the victims was shot at and 
injured, so he could not accompany him. Then Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi proceeded all alone to the riot-stricken area. 

From all available accounts Madho Prasad was the only 
eye-witness who was with Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi till 
the end. According to his record of experiences on 25 March, 
he had gone to Chaubey Gola by 3 or 4.00 p.m. The place was 
somewhere near the mosque on the Meston Road, and the 
conditions in the lane were horrible. A large crowd had gathered 
on Nai Sarak, and some volunteers requested him to address 
the crowd. According to the findings of the Congress Enquiry 
Committee report, “there were two hundred Musalmans, Chunni 
Khan, Khalifa in the Akhara of Bhakku Pahalwan, and five or 
seven other prominent Musalmans shook hands with him and 
embraced him”. Thereafter Chunni Khan and his companions 
took him away to another trouble spot. From Chaubey Gola 



they too parted company. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was then 
left alone to face the mob. 

What happened thereafter was narrated before the Enquiry 
Committee by another eye-witness, Ganpat Singh. According 
to him, in the act of saving the riot victims, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was trapped in the midst of two crowds, one from 
Makar Mandi side and the other from Naya Chowk. It was 
here that some people started attacking him with lathis. At the 
instance of one Muslim volunteer, he was spared as he had 
saved hundreds of Muslims. But soon after, another crowd 
attacked him. When some people started dragging him to a lane, 
he said that he won’t run away. As he had to die one day, he 
would prefer to die, while doing his duty. But his noble words 
had no elfect on the assassins who attacked him from all sides. 
One of his companions died on the spot. Another volunteer was 
sta.bbed with a knife. Last came his turn and as the assassin 
approached him. he bowed his head down only to be mowed 
down. He was then stabbed in the back and another man attacked 
him with a khanta (an axe). He fell down and the eye-witness 
fled to Naya Chowk. The time of this fatal incident occurred 
probably at 4.00 p.m. and the wounded saviour of riot victims 
lay on the ground unattended. As to when his body was removed 
to what place on that fatal night, could not be ascertained by the 
Commissions of Enquiry. Frantic search was made for his body, 
but the same could not be traced till late in the night. People 
talked about his having been seen near Chaubey Gola and there¬ 
after his whereabouts were not known. The attack on him at 
Chaubey Gola was also confirmed by Maulana Khizr Muhammad 
who deposed before the enquiry committee. 

According to his version, Gamesh Shankar Vidyarthi had 
left his house abruptly at 9.00 a.m. or so, bareheaded and bare¬ 
footed. He was all the time frantically appealing to Muslims and 
Hindus to desist from killing one another. His was the lone 
figure trying to control the frenzied mobs. The two constables 
and the Deputy Collector had already parted company. Even 



the last few volunteers disappeared when the fatal moment came. 
He was thus left alone to die. 

Two days later, his dead body was found lying stuffed in a 
gunny bag in a hospital. Though his face had been badly dis¬ 
figured, he could be identified due to his white khadi clothes. 
His identity was further confirmed by the three letters found in 
his pocket which he had scribbled on the fateful morning of 
25 March. According to Dev Vrat Sastri, his distinctive style 
of hair and the word GAJENDRA engraved on his arm proved 
decisive in the identification of his dead body. Shiva Narain 
Misra and Dr. Jawahar Lai Rohatgi took charge of the dead 
body. With the arrival of Purshottam Das Tandon and Bal 
Krishna Sharma from Karachi Congress, the cremation could 
take place at 7.30 a.m. on 29 March 1931. Thus ended the life of 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi at the age of only fortyone years. 
Due to the prevailing communal tension in the city, most of 
his admirers could not pay him their last homage. 

Echo in U.P. Legislative Council 

The fatal incident was raised in the Council through a notice 
of an adjournment motion on 30 March 1931 to discuss the 
communal riots at Banaras, Agra, Mirzapur and Kanpur. The 
Finance Member had already given statements on 25 and 26 
March. The U.P. Government held the Congress responsible for 
the riots because of its enforcing the hartal even on the Mushm 
shopkeepers in connection with the Lahore executions. Accord¬ 
ing to the official version, the troops had been called to assist 
the local authorities to maintain law and order in the city. How¬ 
ever, the Finance Member admitted in his 26 March statement 
that despite reinforcements “the rioting continued during the 
day, yesterday (i.e. 25 March)”. Although casualties were men¬ 
tioned on both the days, no mention was made of the gruesome 
murder of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi in the House although he 
was at one time its member. 



As the matter had also been raised in the Legislative Assembly, 
the Government of India asked for reports from the U.P. Govern¬ 
ment. In reply to the telegram from Home Department, the 
Chief Secretary Jagdish Prasad sent a D.O. letter with copies of 
the statements by the Finance Member. But the Government of 
India was not impressed with the reports. It was specifically 
pointed out to the Governor of U.P. Sir George Lambert by 
Emerson “that there was a good deal to be said for each side of 
the case”. It anticipated that the non-official Committee of 
enquiry appointed by the Indian National Congress with Dr. 
Bhagwan Das as chairman, would blame the Government of 
inadequate action. In such circumstances. Sir James Crerar, 
Home Member, said that holding an enquiry at the earliest was 

Consequently a Commission of Enquiry was appointed by 
U.P. Government under the presidentship of Mr. Keane on 19 
April 1931 to inquire into and report on the predisposing and 
immediate causes of the communal outbreak at Kanpur from 24 
March, its course from day to day and how it was dealt with at 
each stage by the local authorities, with findings on the inade¬ 
quacy of measures taken. 

Indifferent Authorities 

The Commission of Enquiry recorded that on the morning 
of 25 March, “the intensity of rioting, including murders, arson 
and lootings increased”. According to its findings, it was on 
the afternoon of that day that Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was 
killed while engaged in rescue work and “he deserved the highest 
praise for his selfless devotion during the riots and the fearless 
manner in which he met his death succouring the distressed. 
This was indeed in keeping with his known character”. 

There was general feeling that the indifferent attitude of the 
District Magistrate, J.F. Sale, was responsible for the inadequacy 
of the security arrangements that resulted in the tragic death of 



Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. The findings of the Commission of 
Enquiry reveal that, even when rioting had spread and loot as 
well as arson was going on, the District Magistrate felt that “the 
rioting was all of the burn and run or stab and run type”, and 
the rioters invariably ran away as fast as they could when any 
troops or police appeared, into the narrow side-lanes amid a 
labyrinth of houses”. 

So they could not be caught or even traced out. In short, it 
is evident from the report that the authorities felt that arrests 
could not be made as the forces at their disposal were inadequate. 
But at the same time it is surprising that the authorities fondly 
hoped that Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi and his unarmed volun¬ 
teers could stem the tide of loot, arson and rioting. Even they 
could not provide escorts for the injured to be transported to 
hospitals. It was due to the callous indifference of the authoiities 
that, even after his murder, his body could not be traced for two 

As for the hartal and picketing of Muslim shops, the District 
Magistrate admitted in his statement before the Commission of 
Enquiry that “the Town Congress Committee had usually shown 
a marked tendency to placate the Muslims and avoid giving them 
offence^ \ It is difficult to imagine that on 24 March the Congress¬ 
men would force the Muslim shopkeepers to such an extent 
that looting and arson would begin. In any case if he apprehended 
danger to law and order, he could make preventive arrests of 
undesirable elements of both the communities, but he did nothing 
of the sort. 

In the Legislative Assembly when the then Home Secretary, 
M.W. Emerson tried to defend the local authorities, C.S. Ranga 
Iyer cornered him on the point of delay in calling the troops to 
restore law and order in the city. Emerson asserted that “some of 
the troops in Cawnpore were however called out, and early in the 
morning of 25 March, when it appeared that the trouble was 
likely to assume more serious dimensions, aid was at once re- 



quisitioned from Lucknow”. But in actuality the troops from 
Lucknow could reach Kanpur only in the evening and by that 
time the worst had happened. Thereafter orders were issued for 
requisitioning troops from other districts also. Emerson also 
failed to explain why the police did not resort to firing to control 
the riotous mobs. C.S. Ranga Iyer once again asserted that there 
seemed to be more need of martial law in Kanpur than in Shola- 
pur. He openly exclaimed in the House that Emerson was trying 
to belittle the situation in Kanpur because Indians had been 
victims and not Europeans. 

In the words of Ranga Iyer the most shocking thing in Kanpur 
was that “there were rescue parties, and in one party perished 
one of my dearest friends, Vidyarthi, a man who was a friend of 
the Hindu, a friend of the Muslim, a friend of every community, 
except perhaps the police community, except perhaps the 
Government community, whom he had time in and time out, 
enraged both by his newspaper articles and by his Gandhian 
propaganda”. The speaker went to accuse the Government of 
having let down a rescuer, who was protecting from the hands 
of hooligans, unfortunate families, men, women and children. 
The police watched on and even withdrew from the scene. Such 
a thing was unheard of in any part of the world. According to 
him the death of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi occurred due to 
the grave dereliction of duty on the part of the local pohce. 

Even Arthur Moore, the renowned editor, while opposing 
Ranga Iyer’s allegations, conceded that what the authorities 
did in the first half of April 1931, by strengthening the garrison 
at Kanpur by two companies of British troops, could have been 
done earher too. Detachments from the special armed police 
force, if rushed earlier, could have averted the tragedy on 25 
March afternoon. 

The Bhagwan Das Committee appointed by the Congress 
laid bare facts which substantiated the above allegations. The 
Committee, on the basis of replies to its questionnaire concluded 



that “the Collector, the Commissioner, some European men 
and women, and certain sections of goondas in the city knew 
that it (Hindu-Muslim riot) was coming”. The Committee further 
observed that the District Magistrate, instead of cooperating 
with the Congress leaders non-cooperated and his complacency 
as well as tardiness cost the life of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. 
The British toops, when called, were first deployed in Civil Lines 
where mostly Europeans lived. Some of them, who were posted 
in the main bazaar, broke open liquor shops and looted them. 

Even on the restoration of normalcy, the local authorities 
could not enjoy the lost confidence. It was only when the Con¬ 
gress leaders made an appeal, addressed meetings and went in 
procession through the main roads that the people could be 
persuaded to open shops. The efforts of the Unity Board and the 
visit of Sardar Patel yielded fruit only by 6 April. In actuality, 
it was the supreme sacrifice and martyrdom of Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi that ultimately succeeded in healing the wounds of 
the two communities. 

The chairman of the non-olficial enquiry committee, Dr. 
Bhagwan Das, in his letter to the President of the A.I.C.C., Delhi, 
dated 26 October wrote that “many of the Cawnpore Congress 
workers were not able to rise to that high level of being superior 
to all orthodoxy, and of leaving all mankind utterly irrespective 
of creed, which was attained by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, and 
was illustrated by him in that supreme self-sacrifice”. Purshottam 
Das Tandon, who did not agree with the above regarding 
Congressmen of Kanpur held that Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
was produced from amongst Kanpur Congressmen and was the 
best representative of a group of workers capable of making 
best sacrifices in the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity. 

The motive behind the behaviour of Government officials 
“was definitely to punish the businessmen of Kanpur, because 
they had supported the Congress party and in order to show the 
helplessness of India in respect of Hindu-Muslim questions and 
the imperative need of a third party to maintain order”. 



Negligence on the part of officers at Kanpur resulted in the 
unprecedented calamity and the tragic end of such a noble soul 
as Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. Had the U.P. Government taken 
prompt measures, preventive ones included, had it provided 
adequate security men to those who were rescuing the victims 
of undesirable elements, had it reinforced the local police in 
time, the death of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi and the aftermath 
of that, would have been averted. Report or no report the facts 
speak of the events by themselves. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi’s 
tragic death could have been easily averted had he been given 
armed escort and adequate preventive measures taken to stop 
loot and arson. 


Martyr for Co 

munal Amity 

MAHATMA GANDHI wrote in Young India, dated 2 Aprii 
1931, “I am grieved to have to inform you that Syt. Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi is reported to be missing or killed. Who would 
not be grieved over the death of such a genuine and earnest 
selfless comrade? ... It was therefore fortunate that Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi, who was so eminently free from communal 
bias, who was an institution in himself, and who was the fore¬ 
runner worker of the place, should have laid down his hfe in the 
cause of peace. Let his great example be an inspiration to us all, 
let us awaken to our sense of duty...Let the shame of Kanpur 
teach us a lesson, so that we may feel that even the loss^ of 300 
men and women was not so high a price to be paid for permanent 
peace.” He thus set the highest example of non-violent sacrifice. 

In an earlier telegram to Bal Krishna Sharma, editor of the 
Partap (Kanpur), Gandhiji wrote, “Though heart bleeds, I 
refuse to send condolence over a death so magnificent as Ganesh 
Shankar’s. It may not do so today but his innocent blood is 
bound some day to cement Hindus and Musalmans. His family 
therefore deserves no condolence but congratulations. May his 
example prove infectious!” On other occasions Mahatma Gandhi 
queried why the country had not produced another Ganesh 
Shankar. Whenever he remembered him he felt jealous of him. 
He wished he could also get that type of opportunity to sacrifice. 

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his speech at the All-India 
Students Convention at Karachi on 27 March 1931 also paid 
equally handsome tribute to him, when he said, “It is reported 
that one of my dear friends, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, president 



of U.P. Provincial Congress Committee, has been killed in the 
course of rioting. Like the true brave Congressmen that he was, 
he must have rushed to the point of danger and tried to pacify 
the people who were killing each other. If he has met the death 
in this manner, it is as a true Indian should meet it.” 

The Tribune (Lahore), dated 10 June 1931, carried the follow¬ 
ing passage about Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, “Whatever may 
be said regarding the causes of the outbreak, Mr. Vidyarthi 
deserves the highest praise for his selfless devotion during the 
riots and the fearless manner in which he met his death, 
succouring the distress. This was in keeping with his known 

The Indian National Congress at its Karachi session in March 
1931, also expressed shock and deep grief at the news of the 
death of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, who was acclaimed, as 
“one of the most selfless among national workers and who by 
his freedom from communal bias had endeared himself to all 
parties and communities”. 

Glowing tributes were paid to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi by 
most of the witnesses, who deposed before the enquiry commit¬ 
tee. One of the leading merchants of the Muslim community 
remarked, “He was one who could be counted amongst angels. 
He was an ornament not only of the Hindu but also of the 
Musalman community. He was universally acclaimed as humane¬ 
ness personified, embodiment of social morality, standard- 
bearer of unity, whom the enemies of humanity snatched away 
in the prime of life.” 

Speaking on the motion for adjournment to discuss the 
Kanpur riots, Lala Rameshwar Prasad Bagla and several other 
members of the Legislative Assembly condemned the local 
authorities’ laxity in affording protection to such a noble worker. 
Bhai Parmanand exclaimed that Vidyarthi was the deadly enemy 
of communalism. He always stood for Hindu-Muslim unity and 
offered himself for being killed. He died for a noble cause and 



thus joined the ranks of the martyrs, who did yeoman’s service 
to humanity and universal brotherhood. 

According to an eye-witness account of a European published 
in the Times of India dated 2 April f 931, when hate and murder 
held high in Kanpur, there was one redeeming feature, i.e. “the 
heroic work of Mr. Vidyarthi the Congress^ M.L.C. who in the 
end fell a victim to his utterly fearless labours”. He went time 
and again into the Mahomedan quarters, unarmed and barefoot. 
As no police was available to protect him, he had as companions 
two Congress boys, but on his last expedition be went alone^— 
an example of supreme courage and devotion to duty which the 
public surely would not fail to communicate. His was a rare 
example of heroism acclaimed by all Indians and Europeans 

C.Y. Chintamani, paying tribute to Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, in the U.P. Legislative Council, of which he was also 
a member from 1926 to 1929, said, he knew him for many years 
and as a man of great ability but still more of rare public spirit. 
He knew him as one, whose entile life was given up in a spirit 
of abrogation in the service of his countrymen, and that he should 
have passed away so young in years and with so much promise 
still unfulfilled was a tragedy. Another member of the Council, 
Thakur Balwant Singh said that Vidyarthi possessed patriotism 
of the highest order and he died in trying to restore Hindu- 
Muslim unity. The best homage that could be paid to his memory, 
would be to establish on a firm and secure basis communal 
harmony and unity. To this end was established the Hindustani 
Biradari which exists even today. 

Nawabzada Liaquat Ali said that Vidyarthi, who died a 
tragic death, was an important and prominent member of the 
last Council and all of them held him in high legard and esteem. 
The Nawab of Chattari, Home Member, remarked that he 
knew him as a real nationalist and far above communalism. 
Member after member rose in the then U.P. Legislative Council 



to pay tribute to him, as he was one of the most ardent and 
vociferous members of the Council. 

Among other tributes, he was acclaimed as a true believer of 
the Congress creed, a great patriot, an incarnation of peace and 
non-violence who heroically sacrificed his precious life for the 
cause of Hindu-Muslim unity and maintenance of peace. In him 
India lost a selfless patriot, Musalmans lost a great friend and 
Kanpur its uncrowned king. Vidyarthi’s selfless devotion, un¬ 
rivalled patriotism and his burning,love for India is enshrined in 
the hearts of his.countrymen. 

The Leader (Allahabad), dated 3 April 1931 carried the 
following poem about Patriot's Dream by T.J. Vaswani: 

I woke this morn 

With a song in my heart 
Like the breeze in you free; 

It said—the Dream will yet come true. 

For God’s dreams are Deeds 

And India’s dream of Liberty is HIS. 

Where is the way to victory ? I asked 

And there is the healing message 
I heard in my heart— 

Siva’s way-—the way of the Cross ! 

The way of the broken bleeding ones 

The way of the MARTYRED men ! 

The way of the Immortals 
Who give to God 
The red flower 
Of Anguished aspirations 
And the simple worship 
Of silent Sacrifice ! 

Every word of the above poem was true about the great 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi thus fought to his utmost to kill 
the die-hard communalism. He died as a true nationalist and 



patriot. His unparalleled noble sacrifice served as an eye-opener 
to his countrymen in 1931, and should serve in future also. 

The Kanpur Municipal Board also paid tribute to him with 
the hope that his innocent blood would serve as a cement to 
bind the two communities for which cause he sacrificed his life. 
Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant wrote to Sunderlal that the loss of 
Vidyarthi was irreparable. He was “a friend so sweet, so noble, 
so selfless, one cannot imagine”. In the words of Jwaladutt 
Sharma, another admirer, he was humane above all. He was 
simple, kind-hearted and unassuming. In the words of Pandit 
Nehru he attained the eternal joy in the noble sacrifice. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyartlii was humble to the core. He was 
always simple dressed. He mostly put on dhoti and over that a 
long coat. When Gandhiji’s influence dominated, he started 
wearing only a white hurt a with Gandhi cap on. The only addition 
was a dupatta, commonly known after Madan Mohan Malaviya. 
It was always an attractive combination. Whenever he burst 
into laughter, he captivated everybody present. He always greeted 
his visitors and friends with Vande short form of Vandematram, 
the national song. 

In the words of Banarsidas Chaturvedi, Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi was unassuming in his manners, with a heart that 
keenly felt for the poor and a face that spoke of long suffering 
and transparent sincerity. The personality of Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi had a peculiar charm of his own. 

Having no axe of his own to grind, with an ambition of only 
serving the poor, he possessed an indomitable courage, ever 
ready to oppose tyranny and injustice from whatever quarter 
that might have been—the capitalists, the Government or the 
mob. He was a fighting editor of the Pratap (Kanpur) and thus 
represented the powerful journalism of the future India. He was 
jestful and humorous, but when sarcastic, he cut to the core. He 
was quick to retort, but never hurt anybody. He was lovable 



and respected for his unostentatious behaviour and magnetic 
personality. He was frail, lean and thin, but had the strength 
of a giant. Within a short span of his life he rose to be an all- 
India leader. 

Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi as a writer had the vibrant heart 
of a poet and his pen-portraits of the poor and the downtrodden 
moved his readers to the core of their hearts. Although he was 
tolerant by nature, he was unsparing to the corrupt. And when 
after his relentless fight in a contempt case, he was made to pay 
a fine of rupees four hundred, his article entitled On the Path of 
Sacrifice, (The Pratap, dated 21 November 1926) is the finest 
example of his self-mortification and challenging words even to 
the Almighty. The occasion for writing that was the mortification 
he suffered in the unjust punishment awarded to him in Mainpuri 
Contempt Case. He wrote, “Ye ! God ! How thorny is the 
path and how rickety is the road leading to Your door? Why 
have You interposed such a thorny road between me, devoted 
to the path of Your LOVE, and Your palatial abode? Whence 
have You become such a cruel assayer of Your devotees?” He 
further eulogised, “The path of sacrifice is no doubt very difficult. 
If someone eagerly advances towards You, You silently show 
the path of thorns.” According to him human-beings aspiring 
to have a glimpse of such an idol, did not complain to the effect, 
that the Supreme Being kept himself on the other side of that 
difficult, painful and thorny path. However, his devotees wel¬ 
comed such difficult situations, rebukes, physical troubles and 
mental afflictions as gifts from the Almighty. “The life of such 
crazy devotees,” in the words of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, 
“was akin to consigned flowers, wreaths or floral offerings.” 

He went still further and enquired from the Almighty as to 
what pleasure did He derive by putting the devotees on trial or 
under severe tests. It was heartening to note that those, who 
determined to tread the path towards Him, became so crazy and 
so persistent in their determination that they forgot their self. 
Despite all difficulties the devotee aspired for His glimpses and 



entry into His Durbar. And he only wished that he could die or 
sacrifice for such a coquetry or blendishment of His. He looked 
upon the Almighty as One, pulsating in the cries of the oppressed, 
the agony of the afiiicted and the misery of the downtrodden. 
He was visible in the vacant looks of the millions who were 
ransacked and travellers on a thorny path. 

According to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi the Almighty resided 
in the midst of the poor, oppressed and exploited mass of the 
people. His feet were entrenched in such places, where the so- 
called dredges of the society resided; and it seemed to him that 
He summoned the devotees also to such places of worship. He 
was unable to describe the splendour of such abodes. In his view 
there was on the one hand garland of shoes, kicks and even 
whips; but on the other hand there was a water channel of the 
tears of the skeleton-like human-beings. On the one side there 
was a heartrending cry of an infant separated from the mother 
doing begar; while on the other there was agony of those whose 
everything had been snatched away by the tyrant. Life was just 
clinging to skeletons at one place and at another there were under¬ 
nourished and half-starved children wrapped in rags. It is strange 
that the Lord, the Almighty had entrenched Him-self in the midst 
of atrocities, tyranny, forceful exactions, pain, misery, cruelty 
and animal behaviour. 

Howsoever depressed the mind of the human-being might 
have become, in the words of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, all 
the world was of the Almighty. From time immemorial, it had 
been the practice that His devotees had passed their fives in 
poverty, troubles and sacrifice. The Almighty knew everything. 
He was onmipotent, so the devotee had nothing to fear. For 
him it was only to do and die. Sacrifice was the ultimate object 
for the devotee. 

According to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi the defiant soul was 
forced to bear the agony. His only fault was that he had raised 
his voice against injustice, atrocity and tyranny. Another crime 



of his was that he had extended his helping hand to the tortured 
and the dying. There was anguish in the cry of the oppressed. 
For the devotee there was an appeal and demand for the per¬ 
formance of his duty. He performed his duty. He died for a 
cause, and thus joined the imposing galaxy of martyrs. He pined 
for sacrificing his life for a noble cause, and he did get that 



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A Hindi Weekly Pratap Office 

Cawnpore 26-10-1919 

The Judge 

The Sessions Court 



The bearer, Mr. Siv Charan Lai Sharma is a special corres¬ 
pondent of our paper, the Pratap and is being sent to your court 
to take reports of the Sedition Case. We shall be highly obliged 
if you would please allow him the facilities which are usually 
allowed to reporters under such circumstances. 

We have the honour to be 

Your most obedient servant 

Sd. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi 
Editor, the Pratap 

Mainpuri Conspiracy Case files, U.P. State Archives, Lucknow. 


Extracts from Kanpur Riots Enquiry Report, 1,931 
Para 72. 

The inactivity of the police is further illustrated by the very 
small number of arrests made at the beginning. On the 24th, 
there was only one, and on the 25th, only five with the exception 
of those made in a special raid by a Deputy Superintendent of 
Police in Colonelganj and on the 26th only two persons were 
arrested. These figures indicate either inactivity or that no 
importance was attached to the making of arrests as means of 
checking the riots. More than one Deputy Magistrate has told 
us that no serious elfort was made to enforce the orders under 
section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before 27th. 

The failure to make arrests and enforce those orders must 
have given the bad characters an idea that they were free to do 
so as they liked; and of this opportunity they took full advantage. 
The policy of making arrests on a large scale at an early stage 
proved very eifective in the 1927 riot. 

Sd. at Nainital 
May 22, 1931 

Sd. M. Keane 
G.O. Allen 
Balram Ram Dave 
Liaqut Ali Khan 


1. Primary Sources (Unpublished): 

(A) U.P, State Archives, Lucknow: 

(i) Home Police, 1921 to 1931—Files relating to Non- 
Cooperation, Civil Disobedience Movement, Agrarian 
disturbances in Awadh, files relating to Press, the 
Pratap (Kanpur), and for-feiture of securities, etc. 

(ii) Mainpuri Conspiracy Case files. 

(iii) Kakori Train Dacoity Conspiracy Case files. 

(iv) Kanpur Riot Enquiry Committee Report, (Official) 
original with evidences, 1931. 

(B) National Archives of India, New Delhi 

(i) Home Department, Poll., 1913 to 1935. 

(ii) Home Deptt. Political A, 1907 to 1921. 

(iii) Home Deptt. Political B, 1907 to 1921. 

(iv) Home Deptt. Procdgs. Deposit, 1921 to 1926. 

(v) Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1921 to 1931. 

(vi) Proceedings of the U.P. Legislative Council, 1920 to 
1931, more specially of the years 1927, 1928 and 1929. 

(C) Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Teenmurti, 
New Delhi. 

(i) Original files of the Pratap (Weekly, Kanpur) 1913 to 
1933; also available in Microfilm. 

(ii) Prabha (Kanpur), (Monthly magazine), In microfilm. 

(iii) The Leader (Allahabad) 1907-1933—In Microfilm. 

(iv) The Abhyudaya (Allahabad), -do- 

(v) The Vartman (Kanpur), -do- 

(vi) The Independent (Allahabad), -do- 



(vii) Proceedings of the U.P. P.C.C. In Microfilm, 1929 
to 1931. 

(viii) Nehru Papers. 

(ix) A.I.C.C. Files. 

(x) Private Papers of Banarsidas Chaturvedi. 

II. Published Works: 

1. Encyclopaedia of the Indian National Congress, 1916 to 

2. Editorial of the Pratap, entitled Kranti Ka Udghosh, two 
volumes, 1913 to 1926. Published by Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi Smarak Samiti, Pandunagar, Kanpur, 1978. 

3. Dr. Jawahar Lai Rohatgi, Abhinandan Granth, 1961. 

.4. Narmada (Gwalior) Special Number, 1961. Amar 

Shaheed Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Smriti Ank, Ed. 
Banarsidas Chaturvedi, Jhabarmal Sharma, Onkar 
Shankar Vidyarthi and Shambhunath Saxena. 

5. Amar Shaheed Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Smriti Granth, 
1960, Ed. Banarsidas Chaturvedi, Hindi Bhawan, Kalpi. 

6. Jail Diary of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Ed. Salil, 
Suresh, 1981. 

7. Arora, Narain Prasad and Luxmi Kant Tripathi (ed) 
Kanpur Zile Ka Vrahat Itihas, 1950. 

8. Chopra, Dr. P.N., Raft Ahmad Kidwai. 

9. Deol, G.H., Bhagat Singh, A Biography, Patiala, 1969. 

10. Ghosh, Ajoy, Bhagat Singh and His Comrades. 

11. Hashmi, Dr. M.H., Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Biography in 
Builders of Modern India Series, Pub. Div. Information 
and Broadcasting Ministry, Government of India, 
New Delhi-1. 

12. Jain, Ajit Prasad, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai. 

13. Rao, M. Chalapathi, GovindBallabh Pant, a Biography. 

14. The Press, Nationa.1 Book Trust of India, New Delhi. 

15. Shya.m Sundar Savitri Sham, Political Life of Govind 
Ballabh Pant. 



16. Shastri, Dev Vrat, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Biography, 
in Hindi, 1931. 

17. Sunder Lai, The Hindu-Muslim Problem in India, 
Bhagwan Das Kanpur Riots Enquiry Committee Report. 

18. Yashashvi Patrakar (Hindi), Publications Division, 
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, New Delhi. 

19. Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. 

20. Selected Works of Motilal Nehru. 

21. Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru. 

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Abadi, Murtaza Husain, 82 
Abdul Salam, Khwaja, 81, 82 
Abhyudaya, 9-11, 18, 19, 59 
Abhyudaya Press, 10 
Administration, need for reforms in, 

Administi'ative Pveforms Enquiry 
Commission, 28 
Agarwala, Satyanarain, 106 
Agnihotri, Jayanti Prasad, 79 
Agnihotri, Luxmi Narain, 79, 80 
Agra, communal riots in, 144 
Agra Province Zamindar Association, 

Ahmed Husain, 82 
Ahuti, 10 
AJ (Banaras), 28 
Ajmal Khan, Hakim, 61, 62 
A lakh Prakash (Alakhdhari 

Kanaihyalal), 2 

Allahabad, 1, 2; student unrest in, 

Allahabad University, 92 
All-India Common Script and 

Common Language Conference 
1916, 54, 103 

All-India Hindustani Bhadari; 

formation of, 82 

All-India Spinners’ Association, 72 
All-India Students Convention, 

Karachi, 150 

All-India Shuddhi Sabha, Kanpur, 70 
All-India Teachers’ Conference, 

Kanpur, 70 

All-India Trade Union Congress, 
Gwaltol, 116 

All-India Volunteers’ Conference, 
Kanpur, 70 

Amber Charkha Centre, Narwal; 

production of khadi in, 80; renamed 
as Ganesh Sewa Ashram, 80 
Amrit Bazar Patrika (Calcutta); 
banned in Patiala and Hyderabad, 

Anand Swamp, Rai Bahadur, 68, 87, 

Andamans, 5 

Angel Press, Bhagalpur, 43 
Anglo-Vernacular School (Mungaoli, 
Gwalior), 1, 2 
Ansari, Dr. M.A., 62 
Arjun (Delhi), 28 

Arora, Narain Prasad, 7, 15, 57, 84, 

86 , 122 

Aryamitra, 106 

Arya Samaj Sammelan, Kanpur, 70 
Association of Zamindars; and con¬ 
tribution Bill, 91 
Aurangzeb, 83 
Avadh Behari Lai, 94 
Avantiprasad, Dr., 33 
Awadh; conditions of peasants in, 35 
Awasthi, Rama Shankar, 33, 106, 113 
Azad, Chandrasekhar, 44; death of, 
in police encounter, 138 

Bagla, Lala Rameshwar Prasad, 151 
Baijnath, Babu, 2, 36 
Bajpai, Ambika Prasad, 79, 104 
Bajpai, Balmukund, 60 
Bajpai, Bhagwati Prasad, 105 
Bajpai, Laxmidhar, 5, 106 
Bajpai, Mathura Prasad, 82 
Balaji, Srimati, 17 

Balwant Singh, Thakur; his tribute to 
Vidyarthi, 152 

Banaras; communal riots in, 144 
Banaras Central Jail; riots in, 98-99 


Banaras Hindu University; Gandhiji’s 
speech at, 53-54 
Banerjee, Justice, 37 
Bangbasi, 4 
Bansgopal, Babu, 2 
Bansidhar; donated land for Sewa 
Ashram, 80 
Baqar Ali, 19 
Bardoli Satyagraha, 76 
Bareilly; drought in, 95 
Barkatullah, 42 
Basant Panchami, 61 
Besant, Mrs. Annie, 20, 109; and 
Home Rule, 51-52, 53, 55; 

imprisonment of, 52; interrupted 
Gandhiji’s speech at Banaras Hindu 
University, 53-54 

Bhagat Singh, Sardar, 106; and 
freedom movement, 43-46; appeal 
for clemency, 122-23; execution of, 

Bhagavat Gita, 97 
Bhagwan Das, Dr., 145 
Bhakku Pahalwan, 142 
Bharat Mitra, 4, 16, 28, 103 
Bhargava, Bhagwati Narain, 106 
Bhargava, Dr. Gopi Chand, 121 
Bhartendu Harishchandra, 11 
Bhartiya, Newal Kishore, 78-80, 82, 

Bhaskartirtha, Swami, 39 

Bhatnagar, Shanti Narain, 12; 

Bhatt, Badri Dutt, 106 

Bhatt, Badrinath, 17, 42 

Bhatt, Balkrishna, 42, 104 

Bhatt, Janardhan, 17 

Bhilsa, 2 

Bible, 98 

Bihar; communal riots in, 115 
Bimla Devi, 2, 59 
Birkenhead, Lord, 28 
Birpal Singh, Sardar, 35; exposure of 
misdeeds of, 32-34 



Bolshevik Russia, 30-34 
Bolshevism, 30 

Book of Golden Deeds (Charlotte M. 
Young), 13 

Book of the Religion of Love, The, 42 
Boy Scout Association, 94 
Braja Kishore Prasad, 55 
British Goods; boycott of, 61 
British Government; and Dominion 
status, 128; and exploitation of 
Indians, 28; and Indian states, 
47-49: divide and rule policy of, 

British Indian Association Contri¬ 
bution Act, 91 
British Labour Party, 28 
British Parliament; House of 
Commons, 28; House of Lords, 28 
British Trade Union Congres, 117 
Browning, Robert, 10 
Buddhism, 111 

Bundelkhand, ; drought in, 95 
Butler, Harcourt, 25, 59 

Calcutta Samachar, 59 
Calcutta Unity Conference, 116 
Carlyle, Thomas, 10 
Central Legislative Assembly; and 
Swaraj Party, 85 

Central Province; communal riots in, 

Champaran; condition of peasants in, 
17-18, 55-56, 75 

Champaran Enquiry Committee, 55 
Chamanlal, Dewan, 116, 117 
Chanakya, 83 

Chatterjee, Jogesh Chandra, 44, 45, 

Chhattrasal, 49 

Chaturvedi, Banarsi Das, 84, 85, 106, 
113; his contribution to Hindi 
literature, 103; his tribute to 
Vidyarthi, 154 



Chaturvedi, Makhan Lai; his contri¬ 
bution to Hindi literature, 103 
Chatwai, 123 
Chaube, Ganga Sahai, 82 
Chelmsford, Lord, 28 
Chettiar, Singaravellu, 66 
Children; high rate of mortality, 117 
Chintamani, C.Y., 18, 91; his trinute 
to Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, 152 
Chittor; Rajput valour in defence of, 

Civil Disobedience Enquiry com¬ 
mittee, 61 

Civil Disobedience Movement; and 
Puma swarajya, 102,127; launching 
of, 30 

Commonweal, 52 

Communists Meeting, Kanpur, 70 
Communist party of Great Britain, 

Comrade, 20, 81; action against, 18 
Congress, Indian National, 4, 51; 
and constructive programme, 123- 
24; demand of and puma swarajya, 
102, 127; and Hindu-Muslim 

unity, 115; and non-violence, 123; 
and Swarajist, 67; ten-point pro¬ 
gramme of, 123-24; AICC: its 
resolution regarding political pri¬ 
soners, 123, - appointed civil 
disobedience Enquiry Committee, 
61; Sessions: Amritsar, 56,— 
Belgaum, and agreement with 
Swarajists, 68,—Bezwada, 57,— 
Calcutta, 56, 123,—-Gaya, 62,— 
Gauhati, and guidelines for Con¬ 
gressmen in the Councils, 87-88,—• 
Kanpur (1925), 46,—adoption of 
Hindi in the working of, 109,— 
achievements, 71, 73-74,—arrange¬ 
ments, 68-70,—^resolution on fran¬ 
chise, 71-72,—Swadeshi Exhibi¬ 
tion during, 69-70,—^Karachi, 138, 

—its tribute to Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, 151, —Lahore, 46,— 
Lucknow (1916), 20, 51, 53, 54,— 
and Hindu-Muslim unity, 81,— 
Madras, and boycott of Simon 
Commission, 118-19, —Nagpur, 57 
Congressmen; and constructive 
programme, 123-24; differences 
among, 87 

Congress Nationalist Party; for¬ 
mation of, 86 

Constructive Programme; importance 
of, 49; implementation of, 61 
Coronation Press, Kanpur, 15 
Council Entry; and Congress, 61-62, 

Crerar, Sir James, 145 
Crucible, 10 

Dainik Vartman (Kanpur), 33 
Dange, S.A.; imprisonment of, 66 
Dar, Pandit Bishan Narayan, 54 
Das, C.R., 67, 72; release of, 62 
Das, Jatindra Nath; death of, 122; 

ill-treatment in jail, 121-22 
Deepawali, 23, 99 

Defence of India Act; and freedom 
of Press, 18 
Delhi Durbar, 11 
Desk, 43 

De Valera, Eamon; and study of 
mother-tongue, 110 
Devi Prasad, Babu, 2 
Dewan Chand, Lala, 139 
District Boards; elections to, and 
non-cooperators, 61 
Dixit, Jyoti Shankar, 85 
Dussehra, 45 

Dutt, Batukeshwar, 44, 46, 121, 123 
Dwarka Prasad, Babu, 86 
Dwivedi, Dashrath, 53, 113; his 
contribution to Hindi literature, 



Dwivedi, Devidutt, 33 
Dwivedi, Acharya Mahavir Prasad, 
3, 7, 9, 11, 12, 16, 17, 27, 105; 
and propagation of Hindi, 103, 

108, no 

Dyer, General; and Jallianwala Bagh 
massacre, 24 

Editing; standard of, 113 
Educational Institution; boycott of, 

Ejaz Aii Khan, Nawabzada, 92 
Emerson, M.W., 145, 146 
Eratoon, 53 

Famine Relief Committee; resolu¬ 
tion, 119-20 

Fatehpur District Political Con¬ 
ference, 63 

Fiji; condition of Indians in, 53 
Foreign Cloth; boycott of, 61, 123, 

France, Anatole, 10 
Freedom; attainment of, and mother- 
tongue, 110 

Freedom struggle; and role of Press, 

Fyzabad; drought in, 95; kisan 
movement in, 57 

Gajpuri, Mannan Dwivedi, 42, 104 
Ganesh Prasad, 116 
Gandhi, Maganlal, 56 
Gandhi, M.K., 11, 17, 53, 57, 62, 
69, 70, 108, 111, 118, 128; and 
agrarian riots in U.P., 24; and 
Champaran satyagraha, 55; and 
civil disobedience movement, 30, 
127; and constructive programme, 
124; and Hindu-Muslim unity, 81; 
and propagation of Hindi, 107-8; 
and satyagraha, 24; as a journalist, 
23-24; his appeal to all parties to 

join Congress, 68; his tribute to 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, 150; 
his work for Indians in South 
Africa, 55-56; his visit to Bihar, 
20; his visit^to Kanpur, 55, 112; 
imprisonment [of, ,,62; release of, 
in 1924, 67 

Ganga; pollution of, 93 
Ganpat Singh, 143 
Garg, Chunni Lai, 86 
Gavde, Laxmi Narayan; his contri¬ 
bution to Hindi journalism, 103 
Ghose, Aurobindo, 7 
Ghulam Hussain, 66 
Giri, V.V., 117 

Glimpses of Political Revolution, 11 
Goel, Harprasad, 41 
Gokhale, Gopal Krishna, 1, 4, 11, 
51; his advocacy of rights of 
Indians in South Africa, 16 
Gomti Devi, 1, 3 
Gopal Saran Singh, 109 
Gopichand, Dr., 46 
Gorky, Maxim, 11 
Goswami, T.C., 117 
Gupta, Balmukund; his contribution 
to Hindi journalism, 103 
Gupta, Dr. Raj Bahadur, 116 
Gupta, Maithilisharan, 17, 41, 77, 
104-5; trustee of Pratap, 23 
Gupta, Manmath Nath, 99; and 
Kakori Conspiracy Case, 45-46 
Gupta, Nalini Bhushan; imprison¬ 
ment of, 66 

Gupta, Shyamlal, 79, 80; and non¬ 
cooperation movement, 76; 
imprisonment of, 77 
Gupta, Srinivas, 82 
Gortu, Ramnath, 59 
Gurukul Kangri, Hardwar, 42 

Hafiz Ibrahim, 83 
Hallsworth, Joseph, 117 


Harda, Gulab Chand, 69 
Hardikar, Dr. 70 
Hardinge, Lord, 16 
Hari Shankar, 3, 31 
Harishchandra, 42 
Harkishan, 122 

Hasrat Mohani, Maulana, 45, 57,86, 
Hindi; propagation of, 107-8, 111 
Hindi Kesari, 105 
Hindi Pracharak, 109 
Hindi Pradeep, stoppage of its 
publication, 5-6 

Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, 111; and 
pagation of Hindi, 108-9 
Hindu, The (Madras); banned in 
Patiala and Hyderabad, 29 
Hindu Friends Association, 7 
Hindu Mahasabha, 87 
Hindu-Muslim Unity; need for, 

Hindustani Biradari; formation of, 
80; and communal harmony, 81-83, 

Hindustan Insurance Company, 7 
Hindustan Republican Association; 
formation of, 45 

Hindustani Sewa Dal, 70, 124, 


Hindustan Socialist Republican Asso¬ 
ciation, 138 

History; impact of, 13-14 
Hitvarta, 12 
Holi, 60, 90 

Home Rule; demand for, 53 
Home Rule League, 53, 76; and 

Annie Besant, 52, 55; and Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi, 52-54; forma¬ 
tion of, 51 
Hugo, Victor, 10 
Hussain, Syed Iqbal, 33 
Hussain, Khan Bahadur Hafiz 
Hidayat, 97, 121 
Hussain, Syed Haider, 17 


Independent, The 18; action against, 

India A Nation, 53 
Indian Press (Emergency Powers) 
Act, 31 

Indian Press Ordinance, 31 
Indian States People’s Conference; 

and reforms in States, 29 
IYER, C.S. Ranga, 33, 146 

Jagdish Prasad, 145 
Jails; condition of female inmates in, 
99-100; ill-treatment of prisoners 
in, 46, 59; living conditions in, 61, 
97-98, 121; need for reforms in, 
97-100; classification of prisoners 
opposed, 121-23 
Jail Jiwan Ki Jhalak, 9 
Jai Narain, Babu, 1; death of, 2; 

education, 2; marriage of, 3 
Jairamdas Daulatram; and pro¬ 
pagation of khadi, 49 
Jallianwala Bagh; massacre at, 24 
Jamaica; condition of Indians in, 53 
Jayakar, M.R., 86 
Jhabwala, H., 117 

Joan of ARC (Victor Hugo), 11, 111 

Jog, Gangadhar Ganesh, 69 

Jones, Mardey, 116 

Joshi, Jagganath, 22 

Joshi, N.M., 117 

Journalists; condition of, 103-4 

Jwala Prasad, 36 

Kabir, 11 

Kachi, Visheshwar; donated land for 
Sewa Ashram, 80 
Karori Conspiracy case, 45-46, 99 
Kalicharan, Babu, 36 
Kalwars’ Conference, Kanpur, 70 
Kanahyalal, 86, 142 
Kanpur; communal riots in 1927, 
81,93, 144, enquiry commission, 



on, 145-49 ; condition of mill 
workers in, 17, 18, 56, 75, 93; 
demolition of mosque in, 81; hartal 
in, 139-40; industrial city, 116; 
labour unrest in, 117-18; plague in, 

Kanpur Bolshevik Conspiracy case 
(1924), 66, 118 

Kanpur city Congress Committee; 

meeting of, 56-57 
Kanpur Gazette, 16 
Kanpur Improvement Trust, 94 
Kanpur Mazdoor Sabha, 116 
Kanpur Municipal Board; its tribute 
toVidyarthi, 154 
Kapoor, Iqbal Krishna, 141 
Kapur, Jaspati Rai, 36 
Karmayogi, 4, 12, 18, 105; stoppage 
of its publication, 6 
Karmayogni (Aurobindo Ghose), 6 
Kashi Nagari Pracharini Sabha; and 
propagation of Hindi, 107-8 
Kashinath, 6, 7, 15 
Kasturba Memorial Fund; contri¬ 
butions for, 80 
Katju, Dr. K.N., 87 
Kaviratna, Satyanarayan, 17 
Kayastha Pathshala College, 
Allahabad, 4 
Keane, 145 
Kelkar, N.C., 86 

Kesari, 6; its opposition to franchise 
resolution, 72 

Keshavanand, Guru (Alias Dandi 
Swami), 39 

Khadi; propagation of, 49, 54, 62, 
79; use of, 123, 124 
Khalifa, 142 

Khaliquzzaman, Chaudhari, 60 

Khan, Chumai, 142 

Khan, Munshi Maqsood, 34 

Khatri, Devi Prasad, 6 

Khilafat Conference, Kanpur, 69-70 

Khilafat Movement; and Hindu 
Muslim unity, 80 

Khizr Muhammad, Maulana, 143 
Kidwai, Rafi Ahmed, 69 
Kisan Movement; and arrest of 
leaders, 6, 57-58 
Kisans; uplift of, 75 
Kisan Sabhas; organization of, 57 
Kishan Singh, 45, 46, 121 
Koran, 98 
Kropotkin, Peter, 11 
Kulbhaskar, Munshi Kashiprasad, 4 
Kulkarni, Professor, 99 

Labour Party Meeting, Kanpur, 70 
Laddha Ram; deportation of, 5 
Lahore; communal riots in, 115 
Lahore conspiracy case, 123; ill- 
treatment of prisoners of, 121 
Lajpat Rai, Lala, 56, 87; assault on, 
118; his resignation from Legis¬ 
lative Assembly, 86 
Lambert, Sir George, 145 
Landlords; exploitation of peasants 
by, 75 

Lansbury, George, 66 
Law courts; boycott of, 61 
Leader, 18, 86, 91, 153 
Legislatures; boycott of, 128 
Legislative Assembly; demanded en¬ 
quiry on communal riots in 
Kanpur, 144-49 

Lesmiserables (Victor Hugo), 111; 
translation of, 10 

Liaquat Ali, Nawabzada; his tribute 
to Vidyarthi, 152 
Liberal Party, 28 
Liquor shops; boycon of, 123 
Local Boards; elections to, 6 
Lokmanya, 113; its opposition to 
franchise resolution, 72 
Lucknow Central Jail; riots in, 



Madan Gopal, 2 
Madho Prasad, 142 
Madras MaiU 55-56 
Mahabharata, 11, 13 
Maharaj Dhuniwale, 39 
Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Fund, 

Mahendra Prasad, 40 
Mahendra Pratap, Raja, 42, 106; 
exile of, 49 

Mainpuri conspiracy case, 45 
Malaviya, Govind, 60 
Malaviya, Kapildev, 60, 67 
Malaviya, Krishnana Kant, 10, 60 
Malaviya, Madan Mohan, 5, 10, 33, 
86, 87, 154; his contribution to 
Hindi journalism, 103 
Manilal, Dr., 67 
Mannu Lai, 116 
Manohar Lai, Rev., 82 
Marriage; inter-communal, 82 
Martyres of Kakori Case; ban on, 

Maryada, 10 
Matwala, 113 
Mazdoor, 118 

Mehta, Pherozeshah, 11, 51 
Mehta, Krishnaram, 33 
Mestor, James, 54 
Mill, John Stuart, 10 
Mirror of state Revolution (Victor 
Hugo), 111 

Mirzapur; communal riots in, 144 
Mishra, Pandit Gokarannath, 54 
Mishra, Dr. Jaikarannath, 34 
Mishra, Pratap Narain; and pro¬ 
pagation of Hindi, 110 
Mishra, Shiva Narain, 11, 15, 22, 53, 
144; action against, 25, 33; 

imprisonment of, 34, 58; raid on his 
house, 19; trustee of Pratap, 23 
Mohamed Ali, 20, 57, 81 
Montagu, Edwin Samuel, 26 

Moonje, B.S., 86 
Moore, Arthur, 147 
Mother Tongue; importance of, 110 
Muir Central College, 5 
Mukundi Lai, 88 
Mulla, Jagat Narain, 120 
Muhammad Ahmad Said Khan, 
Nawab of Chattari, 93, 97; his 
tribute to Vidyarthi, 152-53 
Muhammad Muzaffar, 82 
Munro, 28, 141 

Murari Lai, Dr., 53, 57, 62, 68, 69, 
74, 76, 84, 116; and freedom 
struggle, 54, 55; and medical 
treatment to fellow prisoners, 61 
Munshi Ram, see Sharadhanand, 

Mutiny of 1857, 2, 4, 83 
Muzaffar Ahmad; imprisonment of, 

Naidu, Sarojini; elected President of 
the Congress, 69, 70 
Naik Community; uplift of, 89 
Naik Girls’ Protection Bill, 89 
Naini Central Jail, 66; riots in, 40 
Nand Gopal; deportation of, 5 
Naoroji, Dadabhai, 11 
National College, Lahore, 43 
National Committee of Education; 
formation of, 57 

National Language Conference, 
Kanpur, 70 

National Schools; need for, 61 
National Week; observance of, 62-63 
‘Navin’, Balkrishna Sharma, see 
Sharma, Balkrishna 
Nehru, Jawaharlal, 5, 33, 57, 60, 
64, 80 119; and kisan movement, 
57; his tribute to Ganesh Shankar 
Vidyarthi, 150-51 

Nehru, Motilal, 4, 33, 50, 60, 61, 68, 
72 73, 123, 128, 154; and kisan 



movement, 57; resigned from 
Congress, 62 

New India, 20 52, 53, 109 
Nicobar, 5 

Ninety-Three (Victor Hugo), 10, 111 
‘Nirala’, Suryakant Tripathi, see 
Tripathi, Suryakant 
Non-co-operators; and election to 
municipalities, 61 
Non-violence; and Swaraj, 127 

Obeidullah, 42 
Oliver, Lord, 28 

Our Renunciation for the Benefit of 
Others, 13 

Padmini, Queen of Chittor, 15 
Pal, Bipin Chandra, 4 
Pali, 110 

Paliwal, Krishna Dutt, 25, 58, 79, 
106, 113; his contribution to Hindi 
journalism, 103 

Panchayat Committee; formation of, 

Pande, Badri Dutt, 89, 97 
Pande, Badri Prashad, 10 
Pandit Prithvinath High School, 
Kanpur, 7 

Pant, Govind Ballabh, 88, 90, 93, 
101, 115, 119, 120; his intervention 
in case against Pratap, 38; his 
tribute to Vidyarthi, 154 
Paradkar, Baburao Vishnu, 12; his 
contribution to Hindi journalism, 

Paranjpe, Dr., 53, 76 
Parmanand, Bhai; his tribute to 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, 151 
‘Parshad’, Shyamlal Gupta, see 
Gupta, Shyamlal 

Parvati Devi, Srimati, 46, 100, 121 
Pathak, Shridhar, 104 
Pathik, Vijai Singh, 29 

Patliputra, 19 

Phoolchand; trustee of Pratap, 23 

Pioneer, The, 55 

Polak, H.S.L., 55 

Political Prisoners’ Aid Committee; 
setting up of, 128 

Political Prisoners, ill-treatment in 
jails, 46, 100, 121-23 

P.P.N. School, Kanpur, 7 

Prabha, 67, 104 

Praja Parishads; and reforms in 
states, 29 

Prakash Devi, 8, 59, 60 

Prakrit, 111 

Pratap, 9, 29, 32, 41, 67, 93, 102, 
106, 109, 116, 118, 150; and 
financial help to overseas Indians, 
16-17; action against, 21, 24-25, 
31-34, 35-37, 38-40; articles on jail 
life in, 61; ban on, in Nepal, 29; 
becomes daily newspaper, 27; 
creation of trust for, 23; first issue 
of, 15-16; forfeiture of its security, 
22; its advocacy of peasants of 
Champaran, 18, 55; its contribu¬ 
tion to development of Hindi 
literature, 103-4, 112-14; its cover¬ 
age of Lucknow session of Con¬ 
gress, 54; its place in Hindi jour¬ 
nalism, 17, 28; on Gandhi’s visit 
to Bihar, 20; on Indians in South 
Africa, 16-17, 20; on Indian states 
48-50; popularity of, 30, 106-7; 
propagation of constructive pro¬ 
gramme by, 49-50; publication 
from Kanpur, 15; publication cf 
patriotic literature in, 21, 105-6; 
special issue of, 17; started in 1913, 
18; suspension of its publication, 
27, 31, 35, 80 

Pratap, Maharana, 13, 49; and 
freedom of Chittor, 16 



Pratapgarh, Kisaii movement in, 57 
Premchand, Munshi, 17, 41, 105 
Press; its role in freedom struggle, 24 
Press Act of 1910; action against 
newspapers under, 18, 30 
Press and Unauthorised Newssheets 
and Newspapers Ordinance, 31 
Peter Kropotkin, 111 
Prince of Wales; boycott of his visit 
to India, 35, 58 

Princely States; maladministration 
in, 29-30 need for reforms in, 47 
Princes Protection Act 1922, 29 
Prithvipal Singh, Raja, 40 
Prohibition, 123, 124 
Public Safety Bill; and condition of 
kisans, 96-97 

Punjab; communal riots in, 115 
Purcell, A., 116, 117 

Rae Bareli, drought in, 95; firing on 
kisans in, 27; kisan movement in, 
24, 32, 57 

Rajeshwar Prasad, 116 

Rajguru, Shivram; execution of, 138 

Rai,P.K., 36 

Rajasthan; Political awakening in, 29 
Rajput Sabha, Kanpur, 70 
Ramayana, 11, 13, 98; recitation of, 

Ram Gopal, Seth, 7, 15 
Ram Hari; deportation of, 5 
Ram Narayan, Munshi, 2 
Ram Ratan, 106 
Rampal Singh, Raja, 34 
Ram Prasad, Pandit, 57 
Ramzan Ali, 116 

Ratan Chand; ill-treatment in jail, 

Rathor, Thakur Manjeet Singh, 106 
Rau, M. Chalapathi; on Gandhi, 

Reading, Lord, 28 

Reclamation of the criminal tribes; 

resolution of, 89-90 
Reflections on the Political Situation 
in India, 56 

Responsive Co-operation Party; for¬ 
mation of, 86 

Revolutionary Party of India, 45 
Rice, A. Roland, 94 
Rohatgi, Dr. Jav,'aharlal, 60, 69, 
74, 84, 144; and freedom struggle, 
55; medical treatment to prisoners, 
61; trustee of Pratap, 23 
Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 10 
Rupchand, Babu, 86 
Ruskin, John, 10 
Russia, Czarist oppression in, 30 

Soinik, 112 

Sajivan Lai, 7 

Saklatvala, Shapurji, 117 

Saksena, Mohanlal, 60, 126, 128 

Saksena, Dr. Surya Narayan, 82 

Salamatullah, 60 

Sale, J.F., 145 

Salt Satyagraha, 79, 127, 128 
Salvation Army; its work for criminal 
tribes, 90-91 

Sampurnanand, Dr., 83, 88, 115 
Sanatan Dharma Sabha, Kanpur, 70 
Sanskrit, 111 
Sant Dal, 126 

Sanyal, Sachindra Nath, 45, 67 
Sanyasi, Bhawani Dayal, 66 
Sapru, Tej Bahadur, 68 
Saraswati, 9,10,11,103 
Satyagraha Samachar, 91 
Satyagrahi, 24 
Satyagrahis; advice to, 46 
Sayaji Rao, Gaikwad of Baroda, 12 
Seth, Vidyavati, 17 
Sewa Ashram, Narwal; converted 
into Ganesh Shankar 
Memorial, 80; establishment of, 



78-79; training Camp for non¬ 
co-operators at, 77 
Shakespeare, William, 10 
Shakti, 59 

Sharma, Bal Krishna, 54, 79, 80, 81, 
85, 112, 113, 144, 150; editor of 
Prabha, 105; his contribution to 
Hindi literature, 103 
Sharma, Batukdev, 43 
Sharma, Devdutt, 47 
Sharma, Jwaladutt, 154 
Sharma, Pandeya Bechan, 112 
Sharma, Sriram, 35 
Sharma, Surendra, 36 
Shastri, Devvrat, 8, 46, 144 
Shastri, Hariharnath, 116 
Shaukat Ali, 57, 60, 69 
Shaw, George Bernard, 10 
Shekhchilli ki Kahaniyan, 12 
Sheley, P.B., 10 
Sheo Dayal Singh, 35 to 37 
Sherring, Justice, 34 
Shershah Suri, 83 
Shiromani, Prakash Narain, 31 
Shivaji, 49 

Shiva Raj Narain, Dr., 60 
Shivavrat Narain, 2-4 
Shiv Charan Lai, 59 
Shradhanand, Swami; founder of 
Gurkul Kangri, 42 
Shukla, Jagannath Prasad, 33 
Shukla, Madhav, 104; and propaga¬ 
tion of Hindi, 110 
Sita Ram, Rai Bahadur Lala, 88 
Simon Commission; boycott of, 

Sinclair, Upton, 10 
Singhania, Kamlapat, 15 
Sikh Dharmik Diwan, Kanpur, 70 
Sinha, Ambika Prasad, 43 
Sinha, Bejoy Kumar, 44, 45 
Soldier of the Pen (Maxim Gorky), 

South Africa; condition of inden¬ 
tured labourers in, 16-17, 53, 

Spencer, 10 

Spinning; and peasants, 78 
Spratt, Philip, 116 
Sri Prakasa, 80, 86, 87, 120 
Statesman, The, 56 
Stiffe, 23 

Stuart, Justice, 120 
Subhani, Maulana Azad, 57 
Sukhdev, execution of, 138 
Sultanpur; kisan movement in, 24, 

Sunderlal, 5, 12, 154; editor of 
Karmayogi, 6 . 

Suraj, Prasad, 3, 116 
Surdas, 11 

Swadeshi, propagation of, 54 
Swami Mangalanand of Puri, 2 
Swaraj Party, 38, 72; and Motilal 
Nehru, 86; and franchise resolu¬ 
tion, 68 

Swarajists; differences with Congress, 
67; their opposition of franchise 
resolution, 72 

Swaraj'ya, 5, 12, 18; stoppage of its 
publication of, 6 
Swatantra, 28 

Sweeper Sabha, Kanpur, 70 

Tagore, Rabindranath, 11; awarded 
Nobel prize, 41-42 
Tamoli Sabha, Kanpur, 70 
Tandon, Purshottamdas, 57, 60, 144 
Tandon, Ramnath, 79; and khadi, 

Tandon, Shiva Narain, 30, 79, 80 
Taqi Ahmad, 141 
Tauhid, 81 

Tauhid Press, Meerut, 19 
Tendulkar, D.G., 20 
Tennyson, 10 



Theosophical High School, Kanpur, 

Tilak, Bal Gangadhar, 4, 11, 54; 

and demand for Home Rule, 51 
Tilak Swaraj Fund; collection for, 
62, 63 

Times, The, 27 

Times of India, The; its tribute to 
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, 152 
Titanic, S.S.; sinking of, 11 
Tolstoy, Leo, 10 

Tribune, The, its tribute to Ganesh 
Shankar Vidyarthi, 151 
Tripathi, Ram Naresh, 105 
Tripathi, Sahdeo, 33 
Tripathi, Suryakant, 113 
Tripathi, Vishambhar Dayal, 33 
Trishool, 21 

Trivedi, Luxmi Narain; donated land 
for Sewa Ashram, 80 
Tuberculosis; high mortality rate in, 

Tulsidas, 11 
Udaipur, 29 

‘Ugra’, Pandeya Bechan Sharma, see 
Sharma, Pandeya Bechan 
United States of America, 50 
Untouchability, removal of, 124 
Upanishad Sudha, 3 
Usmani, Shaukat, 116,118; imprison¬ 
ment of, 66 

Uttar Pradesh; communal riots in, 
115; condition of kisans in, 96; 
drought in, 95-96 

Uttar Pradesh Political Conference; 

resolutions at, 124-25 
Uttar Pradesh Provincial Conference, 
Jhansi, 53 

Vaidya; trustee of Pratap, 23 
Vaish, Chunni Lai, 87 
Vaish Sabha, Kanpur, 70 

Varma, Bal Krishna, 112 
Varma, Brindabanlal, 41, 42, 104, 
106; his contribution to Hindi 
literature, 103 
Vartman, 106 

Vaswani, TJ.; his tribute to 
Vidyarthi, 153 

Vedanuvachan (Nagina Singh), 2 
Vegetable Oil; import of, 28 
Verma, Hotilal; deportation of, 5 
Verma, Paripurananand, 82, 83, 105 
Vidyalankar, Jai Chandra, 44, 107 
Vidyarthi, Ganesh Shankar; and 
constructive programme, 123-24; 
and council-entry 84-85; and family 
liabilities, 59-60; and fast on 
Ekadadii day, 60; and Hindu- 
Muslim unity, 77-78, 81-82, 115-16, 
151-52; and journalism, 5; and 
Kakori Conspiracy Case, 46; and 
organizational work, 126; and 
political awakening in Rajasthan, 
29; and politics, 55; and propaga¬ 
tion of Hindi, 108-11; and pro¬ 
pagation of khadi and charkha, 
78,79; and purdah system, 78; and 
recitation of Ramayana, 66; and 
reforms Indian states, 29-30 46-47; 
and rural development, 75; an¬ 
cestry, 2-3; against Contribution 
Bill, 9; ailments, 60; born on 26 
October, 1890, 1; charged with 
contempt of court, 25, 33, 35-37, 
39-40, 58, 64-65; editor of Pratap, 
14, 15, 23; education, 3-4; elected 
member of U.P. Legislative Coun¬ 
cil, 28; a great legislator, 88-90; 
his contribution to Hindi litera¬ 
ture, 103-14; his crusade against 
Britishers, 61; his crusade against 
corruption, 38; his faith in God, 
66; his jail diary, published in 
Pratap 26, 58; his relations with 



Raja Mahendra Pratap, 42; his 
relations with Sunderlal, 5-6; his 
tirade against Press Laws, 19; 
his visit to Narwal, 75-76; his work 
during communal riots, 140-43; 
his work for kisans, 32, 57-58, 
125; bis work for mill-workers of 
Kanpur, 116; his work for poor 
and exploited, 75, 91, 101; his 
help to revolutionaries, 43-45; his 
work for uplift of Naik community, 
89; imprisonment of, 25-26, 34, 58, 
63-64; influences; Gandhi, 54-55; 
Maharana Pratap, 13-14, 51; multi¬ 
faceted personality, 154-57 ;marriage 
of, 8; murder of, 144; patriotism 
of, 13; President of U.P. Political 
Conference, 124-25; release of, 61; 
tribute to, 150-57 
Vidyarthi, Har Shankar, 80 
Vidyarthi, Onkar Shankar, 111 
Vidyarthi Sangh, 126 
Vijai Dashmi, 22 

Vijai Pal Singh, Chaudhri ; his reso¬ 
lution of agricultural situation in 
U.P,, 6, 95 

Vijaya (Delhi), 28 
Vikram Singh, Thakur, 79 
Villages; reconstruction of, 124 
Vishal Bharat, 35, 84 
Visheveshwar Dayal, Munshi, 8 
Vishwamitra, 113 
Volunteer; forfeited, 67 
Volunteer Corps; formation of, 

Walsh, Justice, 37 

War of Irish Independence ; banned by 
Govt., 30 

Wazid Ali Shah, Nawab, 83 
Wells, H.G., 10 
Widow, remarriage of, 78 
Wilde, Oscar; quoted, 100 
Women; condition of, 78; uplift of, 

World War I, 18, 76; outbreak of, 

Yogeshwar, 42 
Yugantar, 59 

Young India, 56, 62, 150; on Kanpur 
session of Congress, 70 

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Government of India . tj